Last week we reported how 21 year old Chandigarh lad Karandeep Kochhar suffered a heartbreaking penalty but bounced back to win a playoff against PGA Tour regular Anirban Lahiri. The youngster has now gone 2nd, 1st , 1st in the last 3 PGTI events with an incredible total score of 48 under par in 12 rounds making him undoubtedly India’s hottest player !
India Golf Digest spoke to the young star to uncover insights into his success.
India Golf Digest: How did you spend the last several months ? What led to this impressive run of 48 under par ?
Karandeep – It’s been a lot of hard work, a lot of time spent at the gym, golf course, range and discipline, including small stuff like eating and sleeping right. I’d say, my fitness has helped me reach where I am right now.
India Golf Digest: Your putter has been red hot lately. What are your key thoughts?
Karandeep – The reason my putter has been red-hot lately is because I work on my putting a lot, more than chipping and ball striking and any other part of the game. Moreover, I think making those 6-7 footers and when you get those good rounds with your putter, you get that confidence and you just start making putts and it’s just about holing those putts. And once you hole them, you get hat rhythm. Add playing at home, I am obviously very comfortable with the lines and everything.
India Golf Digest: Talking about the controversial penalty which nearly cost you the title. You got upset. . Did you sleep okay Sunday night considering the playoff on Monday morning?
Karandeep – It wasn’t a very pleasant evening (after round four of the Jeev Milkha Singh Invitational) to be very honest with you, I didn’t sleep at all. I switched off my phone at 8pm as I had too many messages and phone calls coming in. I spoke to my coach at around 6.30pm and he told me that’s what I should do and I followed and I think it was really good advice on his part. I tried to shut myself off mentally. But, yes it was really very bad and I couldn’t sleep in the night, couldn’t eat in the morning, not because of any nervousness, because I’ve played in the playoffs before, but due to what happened on Sunday evening.
About the Twitter post, I just shared what I really felt like, it was pretty unfortunate, whatever happened, it shouldn’t have happened. But, I guess that’s part of the game and I have to take it as it comes and I’d definitely come out of it stronger.
India Golf Digest: Were you intimidated and nervous going against a player of Anirban’s caliber ?
Karandeep – I was not intimidated going against Anirban in the playoff, but I was nervous being paired with him in the opening round. I had never played with him before and I was very nervous on the first day and that’s the reason I shot four-over 76 on Thursday. I was feeling very good about my game, my putting, my overall play and I think when I got settled in, it was okay. But, yes, he is a phenomenal player, but I won’t say, I was intimidated after Day one. But yes I was definitely nervous in the first round.
India Golf Digest: Who are your mentors in Chandigarh ?
Karandeep – I’ve played a lot of golf with Shubhankar Sharma and Abhijeet Chadha, they are obviously very experienced players. We play a lot of golf together and spend a good amount of time, off the course too. It’s obviously nice to get to play against players who are so experienced. They know so much about golf and general things in life and then Jeev sir, I speak to him a lot. Whenever, I need some advice, I can always go to him and he is my Idol and he’s been a real help, even after the incident on Sunday evening, I spoke to him and it really helped and there was some key advice from him which I applied on Sunday and Monday and they surely did help me.
India Golf Digest: How have your parents helped ?
Karandeep – My parents have been really supportive, they have always been there each and every step on the way. Be it sports, studies, and everything else. Am really grateful to them. This actually means a lot to me, to get to play sport at this level and I constantly keep that in mind, and not to take it for granted.
My mother feels I should still complete my studies, which eventually I plan on to do.
India Golf Digest: What clubs and balls do you use ? Who are your major sponsors?
Karandeep – I use Titleist clubs and balls and my major sponsors are Titleist and TAKE Solutions.
India Golf Digest: Olympic shooting champ Abhinav Bindra is your uncle, so do you often train at the AB performance centre? Or take his guidance on your game?
Karandeep – I do not train at the AB performance centre as he is obviously very busy with his schedule. But, yes, when I have any doubts or anything, I do reach out to him. Knowing a sportsman of his caliber and experience, obviously helps and he’s been of great help.
India Golf Digest: What’s your frame of mind going into the final event of the year with the prospect of being no 1 at the end of 2020?
Karandeep – The 2020 season has been extended to 2021, so the Order Of Merit Winner won’t be finalised this week, but still it’d mean a lot to finish 2020 on top. Irrespective of whatever happens this week, I’ve really played well this whole season and I’m looking forward to this week. Obviously, last week was pretty stressful, but if I can just play my own game, stick to what I practiced over the week. I’m not 100% going in this week as my back is not that well. So, irrespective of that, I just want to play four good rounds and take it little easy in practice and pro-am, so that I am fit enough to play four tournament rounds. I think that’s my main goal this week, if I can play four rounds being healthy and all.
India Golf Digest: Do you meditate/ or do visualisation exercises etc to enhance your performance ?
Karandeep – I do meditate a little bit, but visualisation, just on the golf course. It really helps you calm down and stay in the moment, not think of the past and everything. I think visualisation really helps, if you can see it, you can do it and if you can’t see it, obviously you can’t do it. Actually, I am impressed with Anirban, how he does visualizations before putts, specially It’s really amazing to see how he sees his ball going in, before even hitting the putt. I think these are just small small things, which go a long way.
India Golf Digest: Have you set your goals for 2021 already?
Karandeep – I’ve not set up any goals, as of yet for 2021, am just trying to take it day by day and try to be the best golfer I can be, the best athlete I can be. But, there are certain things in my mind, I won’t call them goals. With the Olympics coming in, I’d like to be in a good position to make it. (Karandeep is currently 3rd best ranked Indian in the Official World Rankings, with the top 2 expected to make it to the Olympics) Next couple of months are really important and I am not going to think about that too much, I just want to focus on playing and if it happens, it happens; if it doesn’t, it doesn’t. My focus will be to play some good golf in the upcoming months and I’d try playing every event I can. PGTI, Asian Tour, for World Ranking Points and I assume, my next summer is going to be hectic. If the Asian Tour starts, I’m going to try to play almost every week I can, on any Tour.