New Delhi: Indian golfer Rahil Gangjee would be hoping to end a frustrating 10-year wait for a second Asian Tour victory when he tees off at the USD 300,000 Panasonic Open India, which gets underway on Thursday.
Ranked 16th on the Order of Merit, the Indian is in high spirits and ready to contend for the title at the Delhi Golf Club, a venue which he knows like the back of his hands.
"A lot of players find this golf course tight but I've been playing here since I was 13 or 14 years old. Maybe earlier than that! This course is not daunting for me anymore," said Gangjee.
After a stellar amateur career Gangjee turned a pro in 2004 and won the Volkswagen Masters in China in his Rookie year. But since then he has been close on many an occasion but not quite closed it for a win on Asian Tour.
This week at the Panasonic Open, Gangjee will contend with the likes of Rashid Khan, winner of the SAIL-SBI Open at the same venue this year, Chiragh Kumar, and others who are part of against a strong line-up of Asian Tour stars this week.
The Indian challenge will be led by SSP Chowrasia of India, a two-time Asian Tour winner, besides whom the line-up at the event includes title holder Wade Ormsby of Australia, two-time Asian number one Thaworn Wiratchant and the popular Bangladeshi Siddikur Rahman.
After struggling to win again on the region's premier Tour, Gangjee decided to play on the Web.Com Tour (2011 and 2012) before returning to the Asian Tour in 2013 with renewed vigour.
"It has been a little bit frustrating. I've been chasing it for a very long time. In fact, it got to a point when I needed to change Tours. I came back a stronger player. I feel a lot more confident now," Gangjee explained.
"I've had a few close encounters. It has got to do with the game not being up to the mark. I'm always thinking positive so it comes down to the game or the course might not suit you. However this course suits my game so it will be a good week," he added.
While many opt not to hit driver at the tree-lined Delhi course, Gangjee believes he can put the big stick to great effect at the super tight course where golfers are punished for wayward tee shots due to the thick bushes surrounding the course.
"The driver is always in my bag. I hit about six or seven drivers on this golf course. Guys like Rashid Khan, Chiragh Kumar - they find it really easy on this course. For someone coming here for a first or second time, the course is really tough because you don't get a golf course like this anywhere in the world," said Gangjee.
The 2014 Panasonic Open India, sanctioned by the Asian Tour and the PGTI, is staged in its fourth straight year. Past winners include India's Anirban Lahiri and Digvijay Singh.