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Experience counts: Mukesh

Calcutta: Mukesh Kumar was a happy man, on Wednesday. After Day One of the McLoed Russel Tour Championship, PGTI’s year-ending meet, the 47-year-old has a one-shot lead.

“Yes I am happy... Experience counts, isn’t it?” Mukesh said at the Royal Calcutta Golf Club (RCGC).

“I had poor start today... I was quite surprised with my opening tee shot which landed out of bounds. I didn’t expect it to go there. Thereafter, my first task was to get back to even-par, after setting up a good birdie opportunity on the fourth. My solid hitting from the fourth hole onwards helped my confidence. I was consistent from there on and took all my chances. I only missed one fairway after the first,” he said.

Praising the course, he said: “The RCGC course is playing to international standards… There is a premium on hitting the fairways. Finding the rough can make life difficult. It’s about placing your tee shot well. If you are going for long shots, then you are doomed. You have to be patient with your shots,” said Mukesh, who has previously won twice at the RCGC.

Mukesh was candid enough to admit that he is no longer at his peak. “I think my game has lost that X-factor in the last two years… Putting has never been my forte… But I am still here, alive and driving. With age, you fail to find the distance. Now my drives do not get the distance as it used to, say five years back,” Mukesh said.

Mukesh had a dream run during 2002-2004 when he won 11 titles. “Oh that was a great time I had... This year, I have won two (Digboi Masters and Pune Open).”

According to Mukesh, who turned pro way back in 1984, the Indian golf scene has changed a lot. “Now the younger lot are physically stronger. They are spending lot of time in the gym, doing yoga… Look at Anirban Lahiri or Gaganjeet Bhullar… They are physically strong. You have to be strong if you want to have a good drive,” Mukesh said.