Q & A with past champion of the CG Open, Kunal Bhasin
We caught up with Kunal Bhasin, a former CG open champ, at the Bombay Presidency Golf club on the practice round day of the CG open.
The Australian national, who turned pro in 2006, has not had a great season but he says that he has seen encouraging signs of a turn-around in recent weeks. With him taking a lay-off after playing only two events in the first-half of the season, his season has been a very stop-start one.
Kunal got married earlier this year and decided to spend time with his wife after having played a hectic schedule of golf in the previous year. He thus returned to action in September at the PGTI Ahmedabad Masters after a period of six months away from the tour.
Kunal withdrew in his first event back in September as a result of back spasms and has found it tough to find any form up on his return until now.
He says that having to adapt on tour to different facilities every week is not helping his cause either, “Every week is different sometimes you don’t have a range or sometimes you can’t hit drivers at the range. It varies but mostly I am just trying to get back to the level I know I can play at. 2008-2012 were the best years where I played simple golf.”
“I drove the ball really well which gave me all-around confidence in my game.”
“As a result, I was hitting more greens and gave myself chances to convert putts. At worst, it would be par.”
This event wll remain special to him and he hopes to be back to his best soon. His wife who used to be a professional golfer herself is a referee now and is the tour director of the Women’s Golf tour of India.
He adds that they keep zig-zagging back and forth and hope to be in the same cities once in a while. She also accompanies him at some events.
How’s the game feeling?
It’s progressing back to where it should be. I’m trying to play my way back in to form, controlling my behaviour on the course and not worrying too much about the results. I’m concentrating on the process and trying to string together some good golf.
I didn't play much in the first half of the season, only played two events and had a back spasm in my first event back and as a result had to withdraw. I needed a rest period and I travelled & rested back in Australia. Needed it due to playing too much last year and I took an off-season.
Where do you practice in Australia and India?
I play at Bombay Presidency GC, the host-venue this week, and live in Brisbane in Australia, spend more time in India though where I live in Juhu. My coach is Gary Edwards, who is the head Golf professional at The Glades in Gold Coast, Australia.
You have won this event in the past and what’s your opinion of the course after what you have seen today?
The CG open is a great event and a big one with a purse of Rs 1 crore. The golf course is fantastic and the field is pretty strong too. The rough is down and the scoring conditions will be good for the week.
What will be your gameplan for the week?
Hit it straight and hole putts. It’s essentially the same every week. You have to hit it right to left here and the greens are tough to read. Whoever hits it the straightest and holes the most putts this week will win.
Being a past champion at this event, do you think you have an edge at this event?
Had it been at the same venue then yes but the event will always remain special to me because this was my first victory as a professional and it got me off to a start. However, I won this event at a different venue and playing only at the same venue gives you a mental edge because you remember all the special memories due to the win.
What are your expectations for the remainder of this season and other short term goals?
No expectations really as I want to rebuild, I have been battling swing changes for the last couple of years. I was ready for it though and knew I had to take it on the chin and move on. I am trying to stay process-oriented and not be too worried about results. Trying to score well and build it up once again.
What do SSP’s and Gagan’s recent wins mean for Indian golf?
It’s absolutely fanatastic. They are obviously veterans of many years and it’s great to seee them winning. Indian Golf is in good hands and the future is very bright.
What motivates you to get better?
I dream of playing on the European tour and whenever I am at a low point with my game, all I need is to open the European tour website and look at the schedule. It gives me the inspiration to get working to achieve my goals and embrace the challenge of getting better.
Golf is a game of ups and downs, the ups are not going to last forever and the downs won't either. It’s a game of inconsistencies and you never know, you could win next week if something clicks.
How tough is it to refocus and re-set new goals?
I have learnt the value of doing that from not re-setting goals after achieving everything early in a season and I found myself without the drive and the hunger to win. It’s very important because you don't want to waste a year. Re-focussing and the joy of achieving new things keep me focused.
What is your strongest part of your game according to you and which part are you not getting the most out of?
Driving for sure and I am trying to get back to playing simple golf from tee to green. Putting has been a nemesis for me off late and I have been working hard to get it back.
Which year, according to you, would you rate as you career best year and why?
2010 as I played my way on the Asian Tour, didn’t win that season but had a bunch of consistent performances. My first victory at CG Open late in the previous year gave me a good bit of momentum and then I secured my card for the Asian tour after having attempted to qualify 6-7 times before .
What is your favourite moment of your career so far?
First victory at CG Open and getting my Asian Tour card in 2010.
If there was one tournament you could win, which would it be?
I would love to win next week, short-term that would mean I’d get my card back and in the long-term, I would like to win my national opens of the Australian Open and the Indian Open.
I once got in but chose to play in the Singapore Open which was the same week. I would have got to play with Tiger in the field the same week, always wanted to do that. I have played in the Australian PGA though.
Your favourite holiday destination?
Europe, and I dream of playing on the European Tour as well.