Amidst the languidly moving golfers at the Delhi Golf course,Manav Jaini hustles past them,imploring himself after shooting an approach too close to the bushes. Two days after he won the SRF match play event,27-year-old Jaini isnt letting his maiden pro win get to his head. Hes back on the course,iron out his flaws and making his way to the club house only after an intense 27-hole practice session.
I cant afford to take it easy,its one thing to win a one-off tournament,its another to keep the winning momentum going. Jaini has two tournaments in Pune before he jets off to Koh Samui to play in an Asian tour event.
That doesnt mean that the win was insignificant. When I turned pro I had two boxes I needed to tick. One was to finish in the top 10 of the PGTI list and the other was to win a tournament. After finishing 7th in the order of merit last year,three years after he had turned pro,one task was accomplished. The second though was proving harder to get,although he had come close on few ocassions. Jaini had finished third in the Indian Open,fourth in the SAIL open this year,and then lost in the playoffs in the Panasonic Open in his home turf the DGCA last month. Winning this tournament is definitely monkey off my back, he jokes.
But there win has proved to be a literal stepping stone as well. Jaini now has exemption on the PGTI for the next two and a half years,meaning he can now aim one step above and focus on the Asian tour events. I last played in an Asian Tour event just before the SRF tournament where I finished 37 th . It wasnt that I played badly. Its just that playing well in Asian tour events is a matter of consistently participating in the events and not just in India, says Jaini.
Out of the comfort zone
Performing abroad will definitely mean having to step out of his comfort zone. After fighting back from a point when he almost quit the game seven years ago,Jaini believes he is up for the challenge. I was a really good amateur,and then for reasons I still dont understand,my game fell apart. I was shooting bogeys on courses where I would be consistently scoring sub par totals. When finally I even lost confidence in my swing,I was at the crossroads whether I wanted to play further or continue.Starting almost from scratch,Jaini began practicing under veteran golfer Nonita Lall Qureshi. A year and a half later he began finding his feet again.
Its not as if my range has suddenly gone up or I became very accurate all of a sudden. I still dont hit a long ball. Its just that I realised exactly what my stroke was. I know if I play a certain way what the outcome will be. Knowing myself has become my biggest strength.
Luck plays a part
And where Jaini had become obsessive about his game,he says he now has learnt to accept there are things he cant control. I dont rule out the fact that luck has played a part. In the last few months I had been striking the ball beautifully. But since I had not been putting as well,I wasnt winning anything. In the SRF matchplay tournament,I wasnt putting any differently,but I got the win. You could play as well as you think you can,but at the same time its all a matter of luck,how the rub of the green favors you, he says.
What Jaini remains obsessive about is his love for the game. It sounds boring,but I really dont have many interests outside the game. I spend all my time on the course. Even when I socialise,its on the course. I love the game,I love the course,I cant think of doing anything else.