Come November, and Karandeep’s taking care of business as usual
It’s as if Karandeep Kochhar has been waiting the whole year for this coming November.
Last year, the 24-year-old from Chandigarh was 74th in the Asian Tour Order of Merit going into the penultimate month of the season, and finished fourth in Bangladesh to jump inside the top 60 and secure his card for 2023.
This year, he had put together a solid season to be 61st by the end of October. And then, thanks to an impressive final round of eight-under 64, he finished tied for 5th in the Volvo China Open last week and vaulted up to 46th. More importantly, he moved to No37 in the International Series Order of Merit, which more or less guarantees him a place in the highly anticipated LIV Golf Advance event in Abu Dhabi next month.
Two of his biggest wins on the Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI) also came in November and December – the 2020 PGTI Players Championship, and the 2020 Jeev Milkha Singh Invitational (both at his home Chandigarh Golf Club).
“It’s a great time to get some form,” Kochhar said after shooting a four-under-par 66 in the second round of the $2 million Hong Kong Open, his second consecutive International Tour event. of Asia. “It is the business end of the season after all.
“But I guess I’ve always been a bit like that. If you push me, I tend to do better. That’s part of being a professional golfer… you have to learn to play under pressure.
“Last week, before China, I sat down and asked myself ‘What’s the worst that could happen to you Karan?’ It’s not the end of the world. If I have to go back to the Asian Tour Qualifying School, so be it. That helped clear my mind a bit. I wanted to play the kind of carefree golf I played in my younger days. I just wanted to get those feelings back, and that helped.”
Samhain is also special for Karandeep as his mother Reshma’s birthday is on the 4th, and father Sandeep’s birthday is on the 14th.
“Of course, my mom was quick to remind me that I played well last week because it was her birthday!” said Karan. “Both of them are coming to Jakarta for the Indonesian Masters next week and we are going to celebrate your father’s 50th birthday there. So hopefully this good form continues for another week and it would be perfect to have them there as well.”
At the Hong Kong Open, Kochhar started with a three under par 67, followed by a 66 to be tied for 12th, five shots behind the leader, Thailand’s Phachara Khongwatmai. Other Indians who made the cut included Gaganjeet Bhullar (also -7), Ajeetesh Sandhu (-6, T21), Rashid Khan (-4, T40) and Veer Ahlawat (-3, T52).
The Volvo China Open week was difficult for Karandeep as she clashed with the Jeev Milkjha Singh Invitational on the PGTI Tour, also held at the Chandigarh Golf Club. His beloved grandfather, Dr GS Kochhar, with whom he is very close, is one of the longest serving committee members of the club and was not very happy that his grandson lost a competition in his home club.
“I won’t say it was a very difficult decision from my point of view. But yes, if it wasn’t an International Series event and he was fighting regular $300,000-$400,000 competition, I would have played Sir Jeev’s event. He was my idol growing up, and I love playing in front of my family and friends in Chandigarh,” said Kochhar.
“But my grandfather was not happy. He is very passionate about the club. I had to sit down and explain my position. Of course, I was over the moon when I finished in the top-5 in China. My grandparents are both here in Hong Kong this week and they love it.”
Qualifying for the inaugural LIV Golf event is an added bonus. A top 40 finish in the International League of Merit would allow him to become only the third player to take part in the LIV Golf event (Anirban Lahiri is a contract player and Viraj Madappa played in the inaugural LIV event in London 2022).
“I’m excited about it. I think LIV Golf is the best Tour in the world,” said Karandeep.
“It was never a goal for me at the start of the year though, so if I can get to Abu Dhabi, and then if I can qualify, it would be great. I have at least six more rounds to go before that (weekends in Hong Kong and Jakarta), and I want to be fully focused on that.”
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