In a pro career spanning close to two decades, Om Prakash Chouhan was alien to the joy of practice at a world-class golf course or the comfort of knowing that a sponsor by the side can unshackle the mind.
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Both these boxes got ticked the day after after OP won the Glade One Masters in February for his sixth win on the Professional Golf Tour of India. “I was told ‘you are now a part of the Glade One family’,” said OP after shooting a 6-under 66 on Friday to go into the final day of the Players Championship in Panchkula at 11-under 205, five shots off the leader Veer Ahlawat.
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The mind’s a lot relaxed and why not. His costs on Tour are covered, and outside sport the sponsor bailed him out when the family was battling on several fronts due to the pandemic. “It’s a novel experience to have the backing of a sponsor. The days of performing under pressure and wading through the ramifications of a poor week are gone. The focus is entirely on finishing strong every time I tee off,” he said.
OP can’t be thankful enough for the financial backing, but is more appreciative of getting access to the Glade One golf course. A few days before the Tour restarted in Hyderabad last week with the Golconda Masters, OP was in Ahmedabad for a week to sharpen the craft that got blunted due to the time away after he got infected by the virus.
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Growing up learning golf at Mhow’s DSOI Golf Club and later shifting to the grazing ground nearby when access to the army facility became a problem, OP never got to know what it is to practice in a pristine setting. The biggest problem of switching from the wasteland to a tournament setting was visualization, and over the years it took a toll on the results. Before the win in February, OP last won in 2018 and before that in 2014, an aberration given the record early on.
Putting issues resolved, a factor behind the mediocre show last week in Hyderabad, OP has a measure of the competition now. The putter doing his bidding, the man from Mhow, with little to worry about, is surely one of the contenders in Panchkula.
Photo credit: Om Prakash Chouhan
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