Champion Gleeson hopes for an encore

Champion Gleeson hopes for an encore

Aussie looks to overcome season of disappointment

Defending champion David Gleeson is pretty much in the same condition when he arrived for the Indian Open last year in New Delhi.

Three years without a title and in the middle of a wretched run where he missed five consecutive cuts in the opening half of the season, the Australian scripted a remarkable renaissance with a record 20-shot victory at the Delhi Golf Club.

Just when he was getting accustomed to the brand new set of golf clubs with which he won his third Asian Tour title, the 34-year-old once again found the going tough. He missed nine straight cuts, starting with the Singapore Open in November last during which he was also laid low by a stomach bug just after Christmas.

The stomach illness, which took nearly six months to heal completely, not only affected his off season but the start of 2012 as well. Unable to strike the ball as strongly as he used to, Gleeson drew on his vast experience to stitch together good rounds, managing to make the cut in four events out of nine appearances this year. Although not the ideal preparation for a successful title defence, Gleeson sounded optimistic of causing a similar turnaround at the Karnataka Golf Association.

“I don’t think I should play any competitive golf from January to September because I generally play poorly during that time,” Gleeson said in jest during a media interaction on Tuesday. “My season only starts after that! Actually, I’ve played better this year although the results won’t say so. The scores have been poor due to a combination of factors.

“I saw a coach for the first time in my life at the end of last year and he offered a few suggestions to improve my game. I think I’ve got back to a position where I would be competitive. I generally used to perform well in courses that were strategically inclined and that doesn’t happen too often at the start of the year. My goal now is play well at the start of the year and build on as the season progresses.

“My game is in good shape, equal to when I won the Indian Open last year. The intensity was pretty high last year and I was very determined to do well. The juices have just started flowing following the stomach injury and if I knuckle down, I should be able compete at a high level. There’s a lot of golf to be played until Sunday and I am looking forward to a great week in Bangalore.”

An accomplished pianist and singer, Gleeson has been playing on the Asian Tour since 1998 and has seldom forayed to the more lucrative European or PGA Tours. When asked if he intends to do it at the end of this year, he sounded negative. “I’m not too sure because I’ve got a young family and pretty content with what I’m doing on the Asian Tour. If the opportunity comes via the Asian Tour (the co-sanctioned events), I’ll take it.

I’m not chasing any dreams anymore and not seriously considering migrating to Europe or the United States.”

While he may not be chasing bigger dreams, Gleeson, however, will be determined to become the third golfer after K Hosoishi and Jyoti Randhawa to successfully retain his crown and script another comeback.

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