Friday, December 1, 2023

By Brandon de Souza

The past few weeks I’ve let my mind wander and think about one living the dream. Too often in the Indian sports context we hear stories of why someone couldn’t make it instead of how one made it despite the well known institutional challenges!

Long time back the great champion Leander Paes while having a casual chat told me that there are enough ways where one can find his way to the top if one is determined enough. Following good habits is at the core of one’s progress and even back in the day without the ease of access to the gym, Lee would do enough free hand exercises, use the park bench, meditate and get into a yoga routine to keep himself fit. It is truly inspiring the number of years he has spent at the top including seven Olympic Games appearances.

Coming to my own rewarding journey with Tvesa Malik, it has been a delight to help her along the path she has chosen. Despite coming from a family that may not have had any great sporting lineage the support she has received from them has been truly incredible. Her sister Kasvi was also a good golfer till she chose to go the corporate route with global giant Nike.

She has put her head down and focused on what’s important to her and what she is – which is maximizing her golfing potential. She knows she is not the tallest or the longest hitter on tour but takes challenges head on as there is an inherent belief that on her day she can hold her own against even an elite field like the hero Women’s Indian Open.

The best placed Indian (tied with Gaurika Bishnoi) at this year’s edition is now headed for the Ladies European Tour Q School later this year and is not afraid of playing on demanding and diverse layouts. She ranks Kalhaar Blues & Greens, Delhi Golf Club, Prestige Golfshire as amongst her favorite courses and to qualify for LET, she knows that she needs to get better from 80 yards in, drain more putts from within ten feet and what’s more paramount is that the kid is willing to put in the hours that are necessary to make it happen.

I am sure Sharmila Nicollet and Neha Tripathi put their best put forward even though they couldn’t get their full LPGA cards and do hope they get there sooner rather than later. They have the required mindset to achieve something special.

Newly turned pro Kshitij Naved Kaul, who I’ve had the pleasure of catching up close going through his drills at Boulder Hills Golf & Country Club is the real deal. With the experience he’s had over the past few years as an amateur playing around the world, it should hold him in good stead. A fantastic T6 finish at his first event – Panasonic Open at Delhi Golf Club is a sign if things to come. Another talent to watch out for in the pro ranks is Aadil Bedi who has such a steady head on his shoulders being backed by Virat Kohli Foundation.

The Indian cricket skipper’s work ethic is what I suggest emulating to whomsoever I talk to as I truly believe he is a real life champion. The way he carries himself on and off the cricket field especially taking care of himself and more often than not the team when required – I have nothing short of admiration for him!

And finally, really pleased to see Jeev finding his mojo back and showing flashes of the fire that burns in him at the Delhi Golf Club, a week before he hosts his event on the PGTI. Big congratulations to Khalin Joshi for his gutsy win with a back nine to remember. Solid performance for a maiden Asian Tour victory.


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