Dutiful son Akshay Sharma starts to rediscover self on golf course

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Three of the lead on Day 1 of the J&K Open in Srinagar, Akshay Sharma is rediscovering form after a trying phase at home during which his father was diagnosed with bone TB and suffered paralysis.
Three of the lead on Day 1 of the J&K Open in Srinagar, Akshay Sharma is rediscovering form after a trying phase at home during which his father was diagnosed with bone TB and suffered paralysis.

Akshay Sharma was playing the best golf of his career in November last when the Professional Golf Tour of India resumed after the first forced break. Starting with a win at the Players Championship at Panchkula Golf Club, a course that’s like second home after Chandigarh, the 31-year-old notched consecutive top-5s in the next two events at the Chandigarh Golf Club to set the cash register ringing in the space of a month.

 

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Uppermost at that juncture was to replenish the family’s savings in the aftermath of lockdown. The situation did ease on the financial front as the earnings from those three events and the Tour Championship in December took away some pressure of the home loan.

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If there was a concern it was about an impending second wave and another disruption on Tour. What Akshay hadn’t bargained for was an affliction detected centuries ago was lying in wait to strike at the family. He teed off at Kalhaar Blues and Greens for 2021’s first round at the Gujarat Open in the hope that the good form would continue. Instead, word came in on February 16 that his father had suffered a paralysis waist down.

 

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Imagine the plight of the man coping far away from home. The mind went back to January when Sharma Sr was diagnosed with bone TB. Initially, it was lingering pain in the feet and Akshay saw to it that father quit work and took rest. Treatment started and hope floated.

Battling with the news that his father was bed-ridden, Akshay managed to collect himself and continued to compete on his mother’s insistence, but the mind was far away from the golf course.

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He came home, but more than the angst of missing cut twice in the Ahmedabad leg, it was about getting father back on his feet. That task and countless visits to the hospital left him with little time to practice. The strain on the mind, body and finances has been telling, and showed again when the Tour restarted at the beginning of the month in Hyderabad.

 

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Some sanity was restored last week when the familiar conditions of Panchkula helped Akshay register a top-25. The cheque of Rs 55,750 was welcome given the beating the family has taken of late. The efforts have started to show too as doctors are hopeful that Akshay’s father should be up on his feet in a couple of months. The let-up has freed the mind and after a while Akshay was able to express himself at what he is good.

 

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Tied fifth at 4-under 68 and three shots off Round One leader Udayan Mane, these are early days in Srinagar at the J&K Open, but whatever the outcome Akshay is hopeful the worse is behind him, and that bodes well for his golf.

Photo credit: PGTI

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