The Chandigarh-based golfer has emerged as the brightest prospect in the Indian golf circuit, thanks to a series of impressive performances
21-year-old Karandeep Kochhar has been the talk of the town in the golfing circles after he won the Jeev Milkha Singh Invitational golf tournament on Monday.
He edged out former Asian number one Anirban Lahiri to bag the third edition of the tournament at the Chandigarh Golf Club course. It ensured he remained at the number one position in the Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI) order of merit.
The Chandigarh-based golfer has emerged as the brightest prospect in the Indian men's golf circuit, thanks to a series of impressive performances.
In November, Kochhar kept his nerves to card a round of three-under-69 and overall score of 18-under-270 to bag his maiden professional title as a PGTI player, by getting the better of Kolkata-based Sunit Chowrasia.
He has now set his sights on the Olympic dream. So, what do we know about the young golfing star?
He started playing the sport from a very early age and has impressed on the amateur circuit, topping the rankings in each of the junior categories on the IGU (Indian Golf Union) circuit. It was Karandeep’s grandfather who introduced him to the sport.
"I started golf because of my grandfather. He used to play at the Chandigarh Golf Club. When I was three, one day he took me to the Club. That is how I started enjoying golf. My grandfather is my constant support,” he told Telegraph.
Interestingly, he took a break from academics after completing his 12th standard examinations in order to concentrate fully on golf.
He is coached by Jesse Grewal who has guided the likes of Shubhankar Sharma and Gurbaaz Mann. He is also the Director of the National Golf Academy of India.
Karandeep is a fan of former American world number one golfer Jordan Spieth and Jeev Milkha Singh, who was the first Indian golfer to join the European tour.
Kochhar has been on a constant rise since 2016 and as a result, expectations from the prodigy have increased manifold.
He first came under the limelight in 2016, when the 17-year-old became the youngest in India and the lone amateur to win a PGTI event by winning the PGTI Players Championship at the Tollygunge Club in Kolkata.
Though rifle shooting and golf are completely different sports, Kochhar often takes tips from his maamu Abhinav Bindra, whenever the 2008 Olympic gold medallist finds time from his busy schedule.
"He (Bindra) is my mother's cousin. I've always called him maamu (uncle). I don't meet him that often. He has a busy schedule. But if I have something bothering me, I always drop him a text or something. I'd spoken to him when I first won the tour title three years back," Kochhar said in an interview to ESPN.
"Rifle shooting and golf are two very different sports but one thing they have in common is how calm you need to be. So he advised me on how to stay calm," he added.
After winning the Jeev Milkha Singh Invitational, Kocchar’s world ranking has improved from 442 to 355.
According to the Olympics qualification system, the two top-ranked golfers from India have a chance to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics.
On the men's side, the current top-ranked golfer from India is Rashid Khan (282), followed by Udayan Mane (292) and Kocchar (355).