New Delhi: Khalin Joshi and Viraj Madappa, two of India’s most promising golfers, will tee-off in The DGC Open presented by Mastercard on Thursday at the Delhi Golf Club (DGC) attempting to complete a unique double.
Joshi has the distinction of winning at the DGC the last time the Asian Tour staged an event there – at the Panasonic Open India, in October 2018.
And Madappa triumphed almost exactly three years later at the famous venue at the TATA Steel PGTI MP Cup on the Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI) – which was the first professional tournament played on the course following its much talked about and highly praised re-design by nine-time Major winner Gary Player from South Africa, who happens to be on site this week.
Madappa may have the upper hand as his win was much more recent, but it’s marginal as the player who finished second in that event, one shot behind, was none other than Joshi.
“I have been playing here since my junior days and I love the course,” said Joshi.
“It is a great challenge and I have had some success and good moments, including the Asian Tour win. I had played so many times before it was re-done, and I always felt you needed to think and plan all the time.
“Now with shapes of the greens having been changed and a lot of run-off and collection areas, the challenge is stiffer. You can’t miss on the wrong side and if you do it is going to be tough. So, you think before each shot.”
On the new DGC course, Madappa said: “The DGC is a great course. From tee to greens it is the same, but a lot else has changed. The bunkers have been moved a little, the greens are re-shaped and there are some fantastic slopes and a lot of collection areas one should look out for. All in all, it is a great challenge. The renovation has been great. A very good job.”
Madappa’s first professional win came at the Take Solutions Masters in Bengaluru on the Asian Tour in 2018 and since then he has been making good progress, and he chose to use the long lay-off caused by the pandemic productively.
“That was something out of our control,” said the 24 year old.
“I used the time in the first wave to think and work on my game. Then when we got no events on the Asian Tour, it did get frustrating, but I hung in and put more work in.
“I have now been a pro for five years. So, it is more frustrating when you know where you are, and you also know how good you could be or where you could be. That’s the gap I want to bridge.”
Could this be the week when he takes one more step to bridging it?
When Joshi won in 2018 at the DGC, he probably started thinking about going to the next level. And why not, he was playing great, and he was 24 and as he said at the time “many new doors had opened” for him.
Yet, it did not quite happen like that. There was just one top-10 in the whole of 2019 on the Asian Tour and he missed the cut 14 times.
He too used the pause caused by Covid to work on his game and the mental struggles he seemed to be having on the course and on the PGTI there has been a significant improvement in his performance.
“I used the time to work on my game and also to work out what was wrong on and off the course,” said the 29 year old, who also began working with Laurence Brotheridge, Academy Director at The Leadbetter Golf Academy in Pune, India.
Surprisingly, he missed the cut in the first three on this season’s Asian Tour, but that could all change this week.
Says Joshi: “The DGC gets me excited, and I am looking forward to the week.”