Daredevil Randhawa is more than just a golfer (Profile)

March 8th, 2009 - 8:07 pm ICT by IANS  

By V. Krishnaswamy
New Delhi, March 8 (IANS) Jyoti Randhawa, who won the Singha Thailand Open golf tournament Sunday, may look shy and reserved, but when he comes to outdoor sports, there are few with as many diverse interests as him.

He may well be one of the original daredevils on the golf circuit. The 36-year-old son of an army general, now retired, Randhawa’s interests off the course include trap shooting, riding horses and fast motorbikes and, of course, yoga. Yoga, incidentally, has time and again helped him recover from injuries, including a serious motorbike accident in 2002.

He has also tried his hand at sky-diving and four-wheel desert motorbike safari, where he once injured himself badly enough to pull out of a tournament in Doha, Qatar.

Randhawa would do well in modeling, too, where he may be a hit, considering his fitness and personality. But for the present, modeling and acting are the domains of his pretty wife, Chitrangada Singh, called Tina by her friends and family.

Despite winning his first Asian tour title in 16 months, Randhawa has been one of the leading stars of Indian golf over the last decade, alongside Jeev Milkha Singh and Arjun Atwal. His win in holiday resort of Phuket could propel him inside top-100, where he was last year before dropping out.

Randhawa, who was tied with Atwal for the most Asian Tour titles by an Indian at seven, has now overtaken the latter by grabbing his eighth title. Jeev Milkha Singh has six, but he also has four on Japan Tour and two others on European Tour. While Randhawa leads the race on Asian Tour titles, he is yet to win on European Tour, which Atwal and Jeev have and that is something that will not be lost on Randhawa, who has come close but not quite sealed it.

Randhawa turned pro after representing India at the 1994 Asian Games - where he came fifth - and soon became one of India’s most successful professional golfers.

A regular winner on the Indian circuit in his early years as a pro, it took Randhawa four years to make a breakthrough on the Asian Tour with the win at the Hero Honda Masters in 1998. But no sooner had he done that, he was winning regularly.

He retained the Hero Honda Masters title in 1999 and then won the 2000 Indian Open. His first win on foreign soil came in 2000 at Singapore, but after that it took him three more years before winning another international title - the Suntory Open in Japan in 2003. In 2004, he won the Volvo Masters of Asia in Malaysia and then won the Indian Open in 2006 and 2007.

In 2002 Randhawa became the first Indian to win the Order of Merit title in Asia after making a brave comeback from injury. He broke his collarbone following a motorcycle accident in March and was out of action until August but returned to the Tour stronger than ever. He did not win that year but finished in the top-15 in 10 events. His superb season earned him the praise of his peers who voted him the Players’ Player of the Year.

His Order of merit win on Asian Tour earned him a Japan Tour card in 2003 and he made a breakthrough with a win in the 2003 Suntory Open. It was the first win by an Indian in Japan.

In 2004, Randhawa finished the year with a bang by winning the Volvo Masters of Asia in Kuala Lumpur, and ended second on the Order of Merit. He finished tied second in the tri-sanctioned Johnnie Walker Classic and did not miss a cut in seven starts all season.

The year 2005 saw Randhawa endure a difficult season due to injuries during mid-season which ruled him out for more than two months. Still enjoyed a lucrative season as he finished third on the Order of Merit with earnings of $329,835. The same year he partnered Atwal to ninth place in the WGC-World Cup in Portugal where they were the first round co-leaders.

His current phase, where he is developing into a global golfer, started in 2006, when he ended a two-year title draught by lifting a second Hero Honda Indian Open crown in a Monday play-off over S.S.P. Chowrasia and Vijay Kumar.

In 2007, he made history at the Hero Honda Indian Open when he successfully defended his title for his third career triumph, which equalled the feat of Australian legend Peter Thomson. In Europe, he enjoyed a good season, including a second in the Open de Espana after fighting for the title.

The year 2008 did not get him any titles, but he did finish second at the SAIL Open and had several top-10 finishes. And now 2009 has started even better than 2008. After a second place finish in Maybank Malaysian Open, Randhawa was seventh at Enjoy Jakarta Open Indonesia last week and now comes the win in Phuket.

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