Gurgaon:The star-studded Johnnie Walker Classic 2008 is quite easily the biggest golf tournament ever in India and it is being staged at Jyoti Randhawa's neighbourhood. He can almost see the flags fluttering at the DLF Golf and Country Club from his penthouse, which is less than a kilometre or two from his house.
That proximity excites Randhawa, a seven-time winner on the Asian Tour, and he relishes the prospect of sleeping in his own bed every day. "It's something we golfers look forward to going home. To stay home and playing near your house can't be better than that. I'm glad that I'm here this week."
Add to that his local knowledge of the course. He is attached to the DLF and said: "I'm looking forward to playing here. It's kind of windy for a normal day as the last two days have been really windy. I have the local knowledge for sure and I'm looking forward to it."
On the Johnnie Walker Classic being the third international event within the space of one month, Randhawa adds: "It shows the kind of popularity that Indian golf is getting. Indian golfers are doing well and golf is getting into a boom. It's the second most famous sport after cricket and to have two joint sanctioned events with Europe here this month alone, and with the stars coming here, it gives it that much more importance."
Having an Indian winner would be great for Indian golf, he said. "It would be like the icing on the cake. We've had one winner at the Emaar-MGF Indian Masters (SSP Chowrasia) and if we have another one here, it will show that Indian golf has come of age now. We're not a golfing country but in the last 10, 15 years, we're on the world map and Indians are starting to win."
Randhawa, who revealed last week that he is working on some aspects in his game, said: "I have a tendency of moving the body forward (during the downswing). I'm trying to keep the swing a bit more compact, keeping the arms and hands working together. But as long as you're finishing in top-10s, you don't ask for anything more. If it (winning) has to happen, it'll fall into place. I'm just waiting for that one week to happen. "
"You keep changing a little bit here and there and it's working out right. It comes and goes sometimes but if you stay committed and the more I do it, the better it gets. The form is getting better and the swing is getting better."
Also for the first time Randhawa is pushing himself physically with a taxing schedule of nine tournaments in a row. "This is my seventh week in a row, and I've got two more to go in Malaysia and Korea. It's the first time in my life that I've done it but you know what, I'm actually feeling quite alright. I've had some little lapses in concentration during the day but I'm learning to deal with that. It's been a good learning experience for me.
"The body is getting pushed to the limit and I want to see how it reacts. It's good experience. I've had some top-10s, and a second, maybe it's better for me. If I can keep this form, maybe I'll do it every year. Maybe that's the reason why Jeev (Milkha Singh) does it and I think I now know why he does it."
On the Arnold Palmer designed layout at DLF Golf and Country Club, and whether it would suit the Indians like the Delhi Golf Club or the Jaypee Greens, Randhawa felt: "I won't say as much as the Delhi Golf Club. This is more an American-styled golf course and the kind where Europeans and Americans have played. Delhi Golf Club was unique and different, you have to place the ball and know the greens. But having said that, we've had a few tournaments here and our guys know the golf course better that the others who are here for the first time. It does give us a share of the advantage."
All said and done, he is however not putting any pressure on himself, now that he is 77th in the world and there is the possibility of getting to top-50 and a shot at the Masters. "I do think about it. But I have to do my job and play golf to my best ability and let that happen and leave it to you guys to write about it. I think I will just have to play my best. If I can get into the majors, it'll be great."
Finally, what about the bikes in his garage? He has not driven much this week. "No, not yet. I drove it enough last week, drove it to the course (about 60 km from where he stays) on Sunday. Maybe tomorrow or Sunday again but my home is just a short distance from here, so it's not so much fun."
But be sure, he will have a lot of fun staying and home and playing the biggest event in India.