30 March 2019: At the beginning of 2018, S Chikkarangappa endured a tormented phase when he went four events without making the cut. He had a good team of people around him and routine was all too familiar – practice, pack and play. Unfortunately for Chikkarangappa, the drill wasn’t as enjoyable as it was while he was growing up as a young man.
As he dragged himself into his routines as player, the mind began to wander afar. Over time, Chikka struggled to take in the necessary inputs and execute the plans when he needed to. Something had to give, and it did.
He enjoys a great relationship with Vijay Divecha, who has been instrumental in shaping the fortunes of Chikkarangappa. But after years of working together at Eagleton, Vijay moved camp to Kensville in Ahmedabad. Chikka kept hopping cities to train with his coach, but leaving home even when he wasn’t in competition started to bite his energies.
After some soul searching, Chikka decided that he needed to remain cocooned in the comfortable company of his family to bring out his best. Eventually he decided to train under a new coach – Laurence Brotheridge – a young training professional with the David Leadbetter Academy.
It was a move that seems to be yielding some positive results for Chikka. After dropping to 914th in the world midway through 2018, he has climbed back to about 335th on the OWGR rankings.
“I turned a corner at the Jeev Milkha Singh Invitational last year,” said Chikka. “Winning the event helped me rediscover myself and I have been playing well since then. I believe all parts of my game are working well. I feel calm and confident and am beginning to enjoy a good run of results.”
Chikka finished inside the top twenty in both Kenya and Malaysia, on his way back home for the Hero Indian Open. But the start at Gurugram was far from auspicious. A 74 on Thursday meant that he was dancing on the edge of the knife for much of the second round. A disciplined 70 saw off the danger though as he reached the weekend safely at even par. The third round 66 though gives Chikka an opportunity to target another high finish, which should help improve his ranking and line his purse.
More importantly though, another good result will move Chikka higher on the Habitat standings, the order of merit on the Asian Tour. With a long season ahead of us and at least two more international events in India, Chikka could be set for another rewarding season on the Asian Tour.
One of the things that has helped Chikka gain new energy and perspective has been a constant interaction with former Indian cricketer Sujith Somasundar. The Karnataka batsman has been entrusted the role of shepherding Chikka through this important phase of his career under an elite performance program of the GoSports Foundation.
“I have been working with Chikka for about six months now,” said Sujith. “He is an intuitive and smart person, so that makes my work easier. Chikka has a healthy dose of spatial and physical intelligence that make him a quick learner.
“He is able to absorb input, retain the essence and apply it to his life and game. We work on integrating his physical and mental routines through practice sessions,” he added. “The objective is to have Chikka play with freedom, knowing that the right mix of physical and emotional intellect expresses itself without a conscious effort while in competition.”
With four top 30 finishes and a victory in his last six outings, the arrangement with Sujith as well as the technical input from Laurence is beginning to yield some results for Chikka.
But the journey is far from done. The 25-year-old was marked for success very early in his career and only greater success on the international tours will do justice to his true potential as a golfer.
Another good round on Sunday could be just the fuel needed to spur him higher up the order as we progress into an important period leading into the Olympics next year.