In search of 2nd win on Tour, Aman Raj gets better at ‘staying in present’

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Among the strong results this season are two runner-up spots, Hyderabad early last year and Gurgaon this March, and those have been the weeks when Aman Raj has been particularly harsh on himself for falling short. TheGolfingHub Photo by Virendra Singh Gosain
Among the strong results this season are two runner-up spots, Hyderabad early last year and Gurgaon this March, and those have been the weeks when Aman Raj has been particularly harsh on himself for falling short. TheGolfingHub Photo by Virendra Singh Gosain.

Do accolades define an athlete? They do, and in a short span of five years on the Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI) Aman Raj has picked up quite a few and built a reputation.

But one of the hallmarks of the journey is also about beating the blues. Aman has had his share of concerns, and most of them stem from “getting close and watching it slip away”. The reference is to a second win on Tour, and Aman admits the weight of the wait is always there.

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The breakthrough was quick to come, Jaipur, 2018, two years after turning pro. That the wait is getting longer rankles, and couple it with a habit from his amateur days, the discomfort is real.

The season so far is shaping up to be his best with six top-10s and counting. With big-ticket events like this week’s PGTI MP Cup, Jeev Milkha Singh Invitational and Tour Championship lined up, the stats are likely to read much better by the end of the season.

 

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Among the strong results are two runner-up spots, Hyderabad early last year and Gurgaon this March, and those have been the weeks when Aman has been particularly harsh on himself for falling short. The motto is to “be positive”, but the fierce competitor in him does need deft handling at times. He is better equipped these days with the focus on “staying in the present” but it wasn’t so in the amateur days when he “would go quiet for a few days”, mulling over the near miss.

 

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Now, the recovery period is down to half hour as other avenues to let the steam off have been discovered. “It could be a good meal or chat with a friend”. The J&K Open in Srinagar last month was an aberration though. Aman finished sole third, but it could well have been the title he is in search of.

 

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Aman stayed in the mix throughout but the brief stretch at the start of Day 3 made the difference between where he finished and what could have been. He began with a double bogey and compounded his woes by adding one more shot to make it 3-over after 4 holes. “I was angry as the course (Royal Springs) was set up for me.” Able to handle the rush of emotions, “I told myself ‘I’ll talk to you about this later’,” and proceeded to stage a recovery and finished under-par for the day.

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A lot of ground was covered on the final day as well with a six-under, but the bottom line stayed intact. “When you want to win, you can’t play like that.”

 

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Aman will tee off at the Delhi Golf Club on Tuesday in the hope there is no repeat in the PGTI MP Cup and he finds favour on the “interesting greens” of the redesigned Lodhi Course.

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