Rahil Gangjee ready to move on at Panasonic Open India

Rahil GangjeeDelhi: Rahil Gangjee of India plans to avoid another heart break at the Panasonic Open India, which starts on Thursday, after taking several months to recover from last year’s play-off defeat.

Gangjee is still searching for a second Asian Tour victory since his first win in 2004 and came close to ending that title drought before losing to S.S.P. Chawrasia last year.

He will have a chance to erase those bitter memories when he contends for the US$400,000 Asian Tour event which is staged at the venerable Delhi Golf Club.

“It took me a few months to recover from that defeat and realign my thoughts,” said Gangjee. “It was a chance for me to win and I did a really good job but it didn’t work out my way. All credit to Chawrasia because he is such a great player.”

At the age of 37, Gangjee believes the new wave of young talents sweeping the golf scene has inspired many of the older golfers to push past their limits.

“The older guys like myself still have chances to win because we have the experience. The youngsters are coming in and taking the cake more than we are and the challenge is getting tighter. If you look at the Asian Development Tour (ADT) event last week, Chikka S (eventual winner) and Shubhankar Sharma, who were in the play-off are aged 22 and 19!

“It is absolutely changing now because you see younger players winning and that’s because more corporate companies are sponsoring golf tournaments and that appeals to the younger generation. We are not complaining but the older guys would love to win too!” Gangjee laughed.

He will be joined by a talented cast this week who include multiple Asian Tour winners Gaganjeet Bhullar, Rashid Khan, Jyoti Randhawa and Marcus Both of Australia. Mithun Perera of Sri Lanka, who also lost in the play-off last year, will also feature in the Asian Tour event.

Perera, who is the son to Nandasena, a famous name on the old Asian circuit during the 1980s and 1990s, has made 10 straight cuts which include two top-five results. The Sri Lankan lost five kilograms earlier this year but his decision to lose weight backfired as he struggled with his swing.

“I exercised a lot during the summer months but after I lost weight, I felt uncomfortable with my swing! I’ve been eating a lot of McDonald’s to put on weight again. I’ve gained one kilogram and now I feel more comfortable with my swing,” he said.

Despite losing in the play-off last year, Perera still believes he will land his first Asian Tour title at the Delhi Golf Club as the tree-lined course suits his sharp-shooting game.

“I need a bit more luck because I’ve played well in some Asian Tour events this year. I think if every part of my game comes together then the tsunami of victories will come,” said Perera.

Chiragh Kumar, who was part of the Indian team which won the silver medal in the 2006 Doha Asian Games, enjoyed a second place result at the Delhi course in his National Open in 2011 but struggled with an ankle injury in the following year.

He returned to his best form after contending for the Venetian Macao Open title three weeks ago against inaugural Panasonic Open India winner Anirban Lahiri and eventual Macao Open champion Scott Hend of Australia.

“Having a good result gives you a lot of confidence but what’s more important is that I contended against Scott and Anirban! I was able to keep up with them and that gives me a lot of confidence and makes me believe that I can be out there and play against them.

“I know this course well and if I can stick to my routine and process then I should be okay. I won’t complain about Macao. I played well enough but Scott played better and he deserved to win. To be honest, I won’t complain if I had a week like that every week!” said Kumar.