Manu Gandas eyes redemption after reality check - Hindustan Times
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Manu Gandas eyes redemption after reality check

Mar 01, 2024 11:40 PM IST

The 27-year-old could not retain his DP World Tour card but has returned richer in experience

First seasons on international tours can always be tricky, and Manu Gandas discovered it the hard way last year. The 27-year-old from Gurugram qualified for his maiden DP World Tour (European Tour) in 2023 by virtue of topping the PGTI Order of Merit the year before, but only five cuts from 25 appearances meant the European sojourn was a bit of an eye-opener for Gandas.

Gandas started the 2024 PGTI season by winning the Players Championship in Kolkata's Tollygunge Club last month and finished 13th at Vooty Masters. (PTI)
Gandas started the 2024 PGTI season by winning the Players Championship in Kolkata's Tollygunge Club last month and finished 13th at Vooty Masters. (PTI)

"The results didn't go my way but I have returned richer in experience. I now know what it takes to compete with world-class golfers in challenging conditions," Gandas, whose best finish in Europe was a tied-20th at ISPS HANDA World Invitational in Northern Ireland, said.

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Gandas, however, has shown signs of returning to form. He started the 2024 PGTI season by winning the Players Championship in Kolkata's Tollygunge Club last month and finished 13th at Vooty Masters. Later this month, he will be eyeing another good week at the Hero Indian Open — a DP World Tour event — on his home course.

This year's Indian Open will carry a record prize purse of $2.25 million and will be the second of five events comprising the Asian Swing. The tournament will see 144 players in action, about a third of which will be Indians.

While the entry list is yet to be closed, 2015 champion Anirban Lahiri, Indian veteran Shiv Kapur, and three-time DP World Tour winner Nicolas Colsaerts of Belgium are among the star attractions.

"I will try and put my learnings to use. DLF course can be a bit intimidating, and it can get very windy sometimes," said Gandas who finished the competition tied-32nd last year.

Reflecting on his European experience, he said, "It is much colder and windier and it gets very tough when it rains. The body gets longer to warm up which again affects the distances you hit. These are the conditions that we don't get in Asia."

European courses, Gandas reckoned, are longer than most Indian courses, which means the long game is put to test. The Indian was also troubled by recurring niggle on his right wrist and left ankle.

"I have been playing with pain for the past 2-3 years. It is a muscle stress-related issue. This season, I want to give it proper rest and also get physically stronger to add more yardage to my game," he said.

The tour can be a lonely place, especially if the results are not encouraging, and Gandas admitted to pangs of self doubt. "There were a lot of days when I questioned myself, but as an athlete, you ought to keep trying."

"Although I had Shubhankar to lean on, you can get homesick easily. There were a lot of technical and mental inputs from the tour regulars but speaking to my coach Anitya Chand really helped," Gandas, who made trips to India every two weeks, added.

Meanwhile, Indian Golf Union (IGU) President Brijinder Singh said they are in the process of hiring a National Development Manager (NDM) and National High Performance Manager (NHPM).

"We have already interviewed a few people for the two posts. For NDM, we have shortlisted a few. They are supposed to make a presentation about what would be their approach to grow golf. Hopefully, we should get a NDM by the first week of April.

"NHPM has to be an established player, someone who is a good golfer and is committed. It is a long process," Singh said.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Shantanu Srivastava is an experienced sports journalist who has worked across print and digital media. He covers cricket and Olympic sports.

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