Jadeja revels in his new avatar

A hard day’s round later,jokes were still flying thick and fast across the dining hall. Former India cricketer Ajay Jadeja is used to the limelight,but the sudden media attention is unfamiliar to most of his new playing partners,and the source of the shared chuckles.

Written by Aabha Rathee | Gurgaon | Published: February 11, 2009 11:29:15 pm

A hard day’s round later,jokes were still flying thick and fast across the dining hall. Former India cricketer Ajay Jadeja is used to the limelight,but the sudden media attention is unfamiliar to most of his new playing partners,and the source of the shared chuckles. Jadeja might be just three days into the fold,but he’s obviously already been embraced as one of the lads.

Playing his second professional golf tournament at the PGTI Solaris Chemtech Open in Gurgaon,Jadeja was reveling in his new role,expressing dissatisfaction at his five-over round,discussing nuances of putting,and insisting he is ready to finally take formal coaching in the game.

“I have never formally learnt this sport,but I enjoyed it,and so decided to give myself a challenge and play it professionally,” Jadeja told Sportline. “I have about two months free now,and I’m considering getting coached. I am able to play shots,but I need to understand why I’m doing what I’m doing. I need to understand my game better,” he said.

The decision to try his hand a little more seriously at what has been his passion after quitting cricket wasn’t easy,but the path has been tougher. Jadeja missed out on a tour card after missing the cut at the qualifying school in January,and though he’s played two tournaments on a sponsor’s exemption,he’s taking it one event at a time. “I’m not thinking about what I want to achieve,at the moment,it’s only about getting into tournament mode,” he said. “I was playing amateur golf seriously too,but here the attitude is a little different. If you play a bad shot,you have to make sure you’re ready before the next.”

At his first professional round,last week at the Players’ Championship in Kolkata,Jadeja shot a one-under,but fumbled badly in the second,missing the cut. He admits he’s learning new things about his game,playing,and just being around a lot of golfers. “The guys keep giving me tips in practice,so that’s a big help.”

There were some apologies to be made,last week,however. “The throng of media in Kolkata was something of a diversion for my playing partners. I kept apologising to them,but I don’t know why,because it’s obviously not my fault,” he laughed.

Jadeja is sure he’s juggling golf only around his television commitments and family time,but with another new ‘profession’,the person most inspired is his son Aimaan. “He has an old cricket kitbag of mine,where he keeps cricket bats,golf clubs and a football. He goes to the sports complex and then decides what he wants to be that day,” he said.

Arjun,Dharma in lead
The windy day kept balls flying around,but still left a bunch at the top in red figures. Bangalore’s M Dharma and Delhi’s Arjun Singh shot five-under 67 to take the first-round lead at the Solaris Chemtech Open in Gurgaon,and close on heels,a shot back,are another four players — Mukesh Kumar,Sanjay Kumar,Shankar Das and defending champion Rahul Ganapathy.

Dharma’s round of three birdies and an eagle at the Golden Greens club almost saw a hole in one too,but the tee shot on the par-three seventh stayed inches short of the pin. “I played one of the best rounds today. The conditions were very tough with the wind,but I was striking the ball really well,” Dharma said. Arjun Singh made five birdies,including a huge 25-footer on the third hole.

SCOREBOARDbr>1 Arjun Singh,M Dharma -5 (67),3 Sanjay Kumar,Mukesh Kumar,Rahul Ganapathy,Shankar Das -4 (68),7 Bhoop Singh,Himmat Singh Rai,Shamim Khan -3 (69),10 Anirban Lahiri,Anthony Paul Choat,Karanjit Singh Sandhu,R Murthy -2 (70)

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