‘Unreal feeling’ on 18th green tip of Honey Baisoya’s road to normalcy

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Walking off the 18th green victorious after the J&K Open was an
Walking off the 18th green victorious after the J&K Open was an "unreal feeling" for Honey Baisoya.

A six-time winner on the Professional Golf Tour of India asking questions of himself during a tournament week does not bode well.

Honey Baisoya, on the verge of missing cut in Panchkula last month, asked himself on the 15th green, “Perhaps I will never be able to play the kind of golf I am known for. Perhaps the feel has gone.” The hands were tight, body stiff and the mind under tremendous pressure. It wasn’t the fallout of a second straight missed cut after Hyderabad, but the relentless blows the body and mind had endured since March 2019.

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After all, the mind and body are like a sponge and can take knocks to an extent.

In this scenario, had Honey been told that he would go on to win in Srinagar the following week and break a three-year drought, he would not have taken it kindly.

 

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A fall after a high isn’t uncommon, but in Honey’s case the slide was quick, hastened by bouts of lower back pain, malaria, and finally the virus that’s doing the rounds — COVID-19. What this did to the proud young athlete does not make for good reading. There were questions all the time for which answers were tough to find, and the craft slipped several notches to an extent Honey could not have imagined while signing for the winner’s card on previous occasions.

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Known for his aggressive play, adversity and its effects led to a massive scaling down of expectations. To an extent that Honey embarked with the intent of limiting the damage. “I was losing it on the greens,” and then there were the double and triple bogeys that had come to dot the scorecard of late.

Honey fulfilled the objective, but there were bogeys aplenty leading to that fateful Hole 15 of the Panchkula Golf Club. The double bogey had a cascading effect on and off the golf course, and Honey needed time and help to emerge from despair.

Srinagar loomed, and so did the thoughts of another miserable week. The putter had not been cooperating for a while and adding a new one was the only change in terms of preparation. The layout and climate at the Royal Springs Golf Course were up his alley, but there was little he could do about the baggage of poor finishes.

 

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One step at a time and unmoved by the opening day’s 67, Honey ploughed on. The aim — just make cut. As the putts started to roll in, some credit is due to the new putter, confidence grew. Still, not much was read into the sub-par rounds. What did surprise him was the growing support from fellow pros. “Barring the odd compliment, pros rarely reach out to rivals like the way Udayan (Mane) and Karandeep (Kochhar) backed me to finish the job,” said Honey.

This was a novelty and so was the “unreal feeling” after the holing the final putt. It seemed ages since a crowd on the 18th green had cheered Honey as he walked off victorious.

 

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He goes into another big week on his erstwhile home course, Delhi Golf Club, with a vision that can read the greens as clearly as the thoughts playing in the mind. “I have it in me to play sub-par golf.”

Photo credit: Honey Baisoya

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