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Johl eyes victory at Asian Masters

Source: PTI
May 09, 2006 19:53 IST
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India's Amandeep Johl is eyeing victory as he heads into this week's USD 400,000 Aamby Valley Asian Masters.

The 37-year-old Johl is yearning for a maiden Asian Tour title in the inaugural event, backed with some impressive form this season. The Indian is tipped to contend at the impressive Aamby Valley Golf Club.

The Chandigarh-based Johl is also hoping to take a page out from his friend Jeev Milkha Singh's book, with the latter ending a seven-year drought with victory at the Volvo China Open last month, which shot him to the top of the Asian Tour's UBS Order of Merit.

"I've been playing quite well. I've changed my mindset, keeping away from technique," said Johl.

"You know, I've worked on my technique for so many years, that this year I said that was it. I'm just working on my rhythm and my approach to a golf course and the tournament.

"Jeev and I have been sharing pretty similar thoughts. We are both on the same mental make-up and we came to a conclusion that it's all in the mind. We realised that you have to be relaxed when playing. If things go wrong, it doesn't matter. Let's just enjoy the game. The family won't stop loving you," added Johl.

It will be especially sweet if Johl pulls through at the par 72, 7,087 yards Aamby Valley course as he was amongst the brains behind the event's inception.

Together with his good friend and former Indian cricket captain Kapil Dev, who had a big hand in the course design, they convinced Sahara India Pariwar, the owners of this magnificent facility, to sponsor an Asian Tour event.

"We dreamt of staging this tournament nearly a year ago and it has become a reality. I believe it can become a premier event in Asia, and live up to its name as the Aamby Valley Asian Masters.

"I hope to be in contention this week. I've finished second in Pakistan and third in Korea two weeks ago and the confidence is up. I'm looking forward to playing on this wonderful golf course," said Johl, currently 17th on the UBS Order of Merit.

Tour officials have left the rough to grow this week, especially around the greens and making precision iron play a premium. Johl feels that this will lead the best player to emerge triumphant at Aamby Valley.

"You have to be on the fairway. The rough is up. We took Seemanto Roy (of Sahara India Pariwar) to the Singapore Open last year and he took a cue from that tough set-up. The player who plays exceptional golf will win."

With straight hitting being crucial, it could well play into Terry Pilkadaris' liking, as he is a solid driver of the ball.

A three-time winner in Asia, the man from Melbourne has a knack of winning inaugural events, winning the Crowne Plaza Open, Shanghai in 2004 and 2005 Brunei Open, both new events then.

The Aussie has also enjoyed the spotlight in recent times, first playing with teenager Michelle Wie for two rounds at the SK Telecom Open in Korea last week and then being picked to play with former Miss World Diana Hayden in today's Pro-am at Aamby Valley.

"I'm a lucky man," smiled Pilkadaris when told that he was playing with the beauty queen.

"It was nice to play with Michelle last week and she's very impressive. I was disappointed with last week's finish but with the rough being up here, driving accuracy is paramount and I'm looking forward to putting in a good performance."

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