Maiden title won, Jaini to tee off abroad

Amidst the languidly moving golfers at the Delhi Golf course, Manav Jaini hustles past them, imploring himself after shooting an approach too close to the bushes. Two days after he won the SRF match play event, 27-year-old Jaini isn't letting his maiden pro win get to his head. He's back on the course, iron out his flaws and making his way to the club house only after an intense 27-hole practice session.

"I can't afford to take it easy, it's one thing to win a one-off tournament, it's another to keep the winning momentum going." Jaini has two tournaments in Pune before he jets off to Koh Samui to play in an Asian tour event.

That doesn't mean that the win was insignificant. "When I turned pro I had two boxes I needed to tick. One was to finish in the top 10 of the PGTI list and the other was to win a tournament." After finishing 7th in the order of merit last year, three years after he had turned pro, one task was accomplished. The second though was proving harder to get, although he had come close on few ocassions. Jaini had finished third in the Indian Open, fourth in the SAIL open this year, and then lost in the playoffs in the Panasonic Open in his home turf the DGCA last month. "Winning this tournament is definitely monkey off my back," he jokes.

But there win has proved to be a literal stepping stone as well. Jaini now has exemption on the PGTI for the next two and a half years, meaning he can now aim one step above and focus on the Asian tour events. "I last played in an Asian Tour event just before the SRF tournament where I finished 37 th . It wasn't that I played badly. It's just that playing well in Asian tour events is a matter of consistently participating in the events and not just in India," says Jaini.

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