Given the start to last year’s Jeev Milkha Singh Invitational, Manu Gandas’ recollections are fuzzy, but he did come away with a lesson that defines golf — patience, and the reaffirmation that a “week on the golf course is a long journey”.
The top-6 in the Players Championship last November gave rise to hopes that a better result awaited the young pro when the Professional Golf Tour of India returned for one of its flagship events at the Chandigarh Golf Club in December.
That was not to be, or at least the signs were such early on. The three-over 75 and T68 after Day 1 was in no way an omen for what lay in store that weekend.
The setback freed Manu mentally though, leaving him to focus on the “process”. He clawed back, first to make cut, and then to make the best of what he could retrieve with some good golf. Still, it was a handicap race and Manu went into Sunday six shots off the pace.
The pressure of the final day told on everyone save Manu, and the round of 66 stands as a lesson for posterity. “Save for random holes, that week is a blur but I distinctly remember Sunday’s back-9,” said Manu as he prepares to tee-off again in the event and in a setting that is the breeding ground of champions and home to a lot of history.
Manu scripted some for himself by shooting the lowest score on the final day. The prolific run of five birdies off the final 9 holes placed Manu in a spot where he could have been the third man in the playoff with Anirban Lahiri and Karandeep Kochhar.
The missed putt from six feet on the 18th did not pinch much as expectations were on a leash after the first day, but Manu came back a proud man. Be it the recovery through the week or the iron shots towards close, all combined to signal his craft was good enough to pull him out of the woods.
“The T3 was a high at that point of the season but more than that the lesson that golf is a long journey, and one can bounce back after a bad day,” said Manu.
TheGolfingHub Photos: Virendra Singh Gosain