Desperate for full playing rights in Europe, Indian golfer Ajeetesh Sandhu flew across the globe for more than 24 hours for his debut at the Fiji International this week, keen to make the most of his limited opportunities.
The Chandigarh-golfer, who turns 30 in five weeks time, is logging frequent flyer miles as he tries to navigate his way from the Asian tour to European Tour.
“I am trying to make the best of all chances I get. I got my win last year on Asian Tour and I want to try and get to the European Tour, which is the next logical step,” says Sandhu, who travelled from Hamburg to Nadi via Helsinki and Singapore.
“It was a long journey, but seemed to be the best in the circumstances,” said Sandhu, who missed the cut in Hamburg.
Sandhu is one of the four Indians in the field. The others are Shiv Kapur, who won three times last year and was second in Pattaya last week, Gaganjeet Bhullar, who has had a string of Top-10s on Asian Tour in recent weeks and Chiragh Kumar, who is fighting hard to get his card for 2019.
Sandhu had limited status in 2017 but he came through flying colours, and that included his maiden win.
Prior to his maiden breakthrough season in 2017, he played only one Asian Tour event in 2016.
In 2015, he had only two starts on Asian Tour. He played four times on Asian Development Tour and a year before that in 2014 he had two Asian Tour starts and one on ADT, and all of them were in India. He did play 16 and 17 events in 2012 and 2013 but had no Top-10s.
In 2017, playing with limited privileges, he got 11 starts, three of them in India. But he grabbed his chances.
He was Tied-3rd at Taking Solutions, which made its debut on Asian Tour last year. He took off from there winning in Yeangder TPC, finished T-2 in Macao and Panasonic Open India. He was also T-8 in Indonesia. He missed only one cut in 11 starts and finished 21st on Asian Tour’s Habitat for Humanity standings.
With Asian and European Tour coming together to an arrangement this season, a lot of Asian Tour players got a chance to play more European Tour events.
“I got quite a few starts,” says Sandhu. “I want to play and see courses and gain as much experience as I can.”
Sandhu played four Asian tour events co-sanctioned with European Tour, but more importantly, he also got three starts on European Tour events like Sicilian Open, Shot Clock Masters and European Open.
“I am looking at starts in Sweden (Nordea Masters), Denmark (Made in Denmark), Switzerland (European Masters) and Holland (KLM Open). After this week in Fiji, I am taking a week off and to recharge myself and then again look at Europe,” says Sandhu.
Sandhu has two Top-10s on Asian Tour this year, but he has an exemption till end of 2019 on account of his 2017 win in Taiwan.
But things have not looked as good on European Tour events, where he has made only one cut in eight starts and that was at the Hero Indian Open at home.
He smiles and says, “I have to try more.