The downtime was far from ideal; so was Rahil Gangjee’s return on the Japan Golf Tour (JGTO). The 73 at the start of the Sega Sammy Cup on Thursday was Rahil’s first competitive round in almost two months. The scorecard may not be a true reflection, it was a laboured outing throughout. Walking 18 holes for the first time since the Tour went into a break, Rahil hit four greens as the timing was not right with the irons.
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Work has started on that front at the range, but there is more to it, and pertained to staying motivated during the break. Had normalcy prevailed, Rahil would have teed off fresh as a daisy. Life on Tour can be tough, and among the driving forces when he got to Japan in early April for the first leg of events was the prospect of returning home during the break.
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Then, came along the second wave in India, quashing Rahil’s travel plans. Had he ventured out of Japan, it would have been a journey with no immediate return to his second home. With it would have also gone the chance to secure his JGTO card for next season. The choice was clear but holed up in Room No. 301 of the Joyx Golf Club — Rahil can well put his name tag on the door give the frequency of his visits here, the mind was prone to playing games.
What compounded the hurt was watching Tour buddies leave Japan for their respective countries. It was up to Rahil and Raghu, his man on the bag, to humour each other. There were practice and workout sessions alright, but with restart far away, staying motivated became an issue. Far away from family and friends in Bangalore and Kolkata, the next best option was connecting with them virtually. Video chats were aplenty but in no way a substitute for the warmth of proximity. The remote location of Joyx did not help either and desolation added to the gloom.
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It wasn’t just about keeping himself sharp, Rahil also had to ensure Raghu’s emotional wellness too. “Staying idle is like death for him. When he is Bangalore, Raghu is rarely off the golf course (Karnataka Golf Association),” said Rahil. The way out was challenging each other with innovative workouts.
Sanity started to get restored closer to restart as practice sessions in the gym and the golf course got structured. Rahil tested some irons, hit 100-150 balls in the mornings, along with chipping and putting. The afternoons were reserved for on-course stuff. With the golf course to himself, it was about trying out “whatever I needed to”.
Looking ahead, a lot needs to be done. A couple of strong results will set Rahil up for next season, but on the agenda right now is to make the Japan Open through the qualifier in early September. Should that happen and Rahil tees up for the flagship event in October, he would have a big nugget to add to the positives of late. Right now, there are just two — a week off in Osaka/Kobe and getting two shots of the Moderna vaccine.
Photo credit: Rahil Gangjee
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