SMBC Singapore Open

Golf: Himmat Rai eager to make cut

Himmat Rai of India is hopeful his current resurgence will be enough to allow him to qualify for the Rio Olympics.
Himmat Rai of India is hopeful his current resurgence will be enough to allow him to qualify for the Rio Olympics.ST PHOTO:ALPHONSUS CHERN

Golfer is ready to continue form improvement after Q-school stint

Four years after turning professional in 2011, Indian golfer Himmat Rai made an impact when he won the ISPS Handa Singapore Classic, his first win on the Asian Tour. It remains his only triumph on that circuit to date.

The 28-year-old has missed the cut in 46 out of 69 tournaments in the past three years, a far cry from his form in 2011 where he made the cut in 10 out of 16 tournaments.

Himmat said, on this alarming dip of form: "I can't really put my finger on it, these things happen. I was trying hard but it just didn't work out."

In fact, his poor form led to him losing his Asian Tour card in 2014 and he suffered the ignominy of going back to Qualifying School.

But he is enjoying a resurgence here in the Republic as he is currently tied 11th at the SMBC Singapore Open after rounds of 70 and 69.

After three years in the wilderness, he regained his Asian Tour card by finishing tied 12th at last year's Q-school and continued his revival last month with top-three finishes at the Ho Tram Open and Philippine Open.

The player ended last season 31st on the Tour's Order of Merit with winnings of almost US$140,000 (S$199,465), his best result since 2011.

FAMILY KNOWS BEST

I think family (support) is the most consistent… my parents, my wife, and now my baby girl

HIMMAT RAI , Indian golfer, on the source of his motivation.

  • Event details

  • Round 2 scoreboard

    133 Song Young Han (Kor)

    135 Shintaro Kobayashi (Jpn)

    138 Paul Peterson, Brett Munson (USA), Thanyakon Khrongpha (Tha)

    139 Park Sang Hyun (Kor), Himmat Rai (Ind), Berry Henson (USA), Sam Brazel (Aus), Tadahiro Takayama, Yuki Inamori (Jpn)

    Half the 156-man field have not completed their weather-disrupted round. Play will resume at 7.30am today, with the top 65 and ties making the cut.

    Tickets

    Today and tomorrow ($30 each) and season pass ($50) through ticketing partner ApacTix. Price does not include entry to Sentosa or booking fees. Free entry for those under five and $5 per day for kids between five and 12.

    Getting there

    Shuttle buses run at 15-minute intervals from HarbourFront Bus Interchange from 7am to 5pm.

 "I think family (support) is the most consistent… my parents, my wife, and now my baby girl (born 10 days ago)," he said with a smile on his face, referring to his first child as an "extra kick of motivation".

His love for the sport was also key to his willingness to start from scratch. While heading back to Q-school would be seen as a low point for most professionals, Rai treated it as an opportunity for "positive criticism".

He said: "I think it's a phase where you really iron out the things you need to work on in your game, in order to move forward and get more motivated."

Having battled hard through the dark times in his career, he hopes to maintain his good form.

One of his "prime goals" is to qualify for the Olympic Games in August.

He said: "It was really just me maturing as a player. Some players peak early, some players take a little bit of time.

"Overall it has been a very positive period for me because I know what works for me now. I'm just going to stick to that and look forward to a good season this year."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 30, 2016, with the headline 'Himmat eager to make cut'. Print Edition | Subscribe