The present is tense, future uncertain, but Saurav Rathi stands firm by the decision that triggered the current situation.
“No regrets as I had enough international exposure as a junior, the icing being turning out in India colours,” he says. Certain about the road ahead notwithstanding the pitfalls, Saurav turned professional in 2019. Two years down, the account statement reads, eight missed cut in as many starts on the Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI).
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The problem doesn’t lie here, but the reason behind it. It’s the mindset while approaching the business end of a tournament. “The mentality of the junior days stays on,” says Saurav.
Always a slow starter, the trend has been to shoot over-par the first two days, and then go low, really low at times, and breast the tape at the last gasp.
The tactic worked for Saurav in the early days and was instrumental in anointing him the country’s No 1 junior in 2018 till the time he turned pro in September 2019. The script has changed after cross over. Saurav continues with subdued starts, but the harsh life on the pro tour is dawning on the lanky athlete. A bad round turning into a terrible one towards the close of Round 2 can be attributed to the pressure of making cut.
After the J&K Open last month, Saurav was forced into an early break. Sitting out in the absence of a spot had him feeling the pangs of separation at practice on his home course, Classic Golf and Country Club. On a happier note, he ushered in his 19th birthday at home.
The day was observed among family and friends, but more importantly, father and bedrock of support, Chanderpal, was by the side through the day at practice and during the quiet celebrations at home nearby.
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Saurav has learnt to manage himself on tour, but the calls back home are a lot more frequent than the junior days. Nerves need to be soothed with the assurance “every bad round has a lesson; you need to practice harder”. Chanderpal’s words resound every time Saurav tees off and worked has started to rectify the flaws.
For the first time, Saurav is seeing a coach outside the threshold of home. The hours put in with Jesse Grewal give hope that the new association will trigger a break from the past.
As he strives to make his first weekend, there is no shortage of inspiration. Chanderpal’s words are always there, a stalwart has also thrown his weight behind Saurav.
Yuvraj Singh knows quite a bit about wading through strife, and perhaps that has led the champion cricketer to back a greenhorn pro golfer.
Photos: Saurav Rathi
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