Priyanshu Singh waited more than two years in the hope that he would defend his breakthrough win on the Professional Golf Tour of India. Perhaps this was one of the factors that also kept him going during the phases of lockdown.
But life has taught us, especially after the pandemic, nothing is set in stone. A wrist injury prevents Priyanshu from teeing off at the Rambagh Golf Club when the Jaipur Open gets underway on Tuesday. But till the final putt rolls in on Friday afternoon, Priyanshu stays the defending champion, and his win in September 2019 needs to be relived. Especially, the story within the story that acted as a catalyst behind his breakthrough.
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The season began like any rookie’s dream. Priyanshu won qualifying school, notched a top-5 in 2019’s first event at Hyderabad, and followed it with some solid results in the lead-up to Jaipur. “I was in the zone, and everything seemed easy,” said Priyanshu.
Jaipur was the crowning glory and justification that “my good golf is good enough to win”. It showed with Priyanshu staying in the mix throughout. The lead eluded him though and the final round started three shots adrift of the summit.
For those not in the know, Priyanshu was engaged in a “game within the game” that was a catalyst and reward for making birdies. The four boxes of chewing gum in the golf bag came in use, and Priyanshu teed off each day chewing gum. Every time he made a birdie one more was popped in. Likewise, a bogey translated into the dollop being tossed into the bin.
The sugar intake shot up drastically those four days as Priyanshu made 24 birdies, and the occasions when he spat the gum were rare — three bogeys and a double through the span. It was a novelty and Priyanshu would have surely liked to employ the tactic again but is yet to allow himself another opportunity.
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The exercise reached a crescendo on the final day with Priyanshu chasing Kshitij Naveed Kaul’s manic run that resulted in a 60. The would-be champion recovered from a slow front-nine, which increased the gap to five shots, to fire five birdies including three on the final four holes to force a playoff.
Priyanshu had beaten Kshitij at the 2015 All-India Amateur, and with “a bit of match-play history between them”, Priyanshu built on it and prevailed on the first hole outside regulation play. “It took me 73 holes to get in front, but the playoff panned out in a way that it everything happened way too fast.”
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