What a way to start his experience in the United States for International Junior Golf Academy (IJGA)student-athlete Gautam Potdukhe of India with a top-three finish in his inaugural junior tournament and a victorious win in his second.
In his first event, he took third-place at the International Junior Golf Tournament (IJGT)event, Global Junior Golf (GJG)Qualifier at Whispering Pines, June 29 & 30 at the Country Club of Whispering Pines in North Carolina. His third-place finish in the Boys 15 – 19 Division earned him an invitation to the GJG Hilton Head Invitational event December 6 – 9 on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.
That was just a warm-up top finish to his next event. Potdukhe took first-place in his age division at the Coastal Carolina Junior Open tournament at the George Fazio Golf Course on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, July 7 & 8.
Potdukhe, 15, a rising junior at Heritage Academyon Hilton Head Island played in the Will Smith Boys 14 – 15 age division. He fired a 74-82 for a total of 156 during the two-day event in Palmetto Dunes Resort. He clinched the win by finishing birdie-par-par on his last three holes.
“I was excited to play at home, and more excited to win. It was my second time to play in The States,” said Gautam Potdukhe. “My first round, I played well. I was hitting my drives long and straight. My short game was really good. I chipped in for birdie on the third hole. On my second round, I choked on the first six holes. I was nine over,” said Potdukhe.
What turned his game around happened on the twelfth hole. “I hit my drive into the fairway and it kicked out into the bush. I re-teed my drive and hit again. From there, I had 90 yards in and then I made a 20-foot putt. That was the changing point in my game. Then I started making pars. I birdied 16 and parred 17 and 18,” remarked Potdukhe.
“Gauntum is a breath of fresh air as a person and as a player. His effervescent personality and sunny disposition shine through when you first meet him. But underneath the charming veneer is a fierce competitor,” said IJGA Director of Golf Jonathan Yarwood. “He is the type of player I like, he’s ready to play and compete rather than just stand on the range. We have spent time looking at the facts of his game, however, using the latest technology like Swing Catalyst 3D Motion Plates, pressure movement sensors, Trackman, physical screening and video. From these facts, we have been able to create a fact-based blueprint which will enable him to be the best player he can be. It is a very individual approach rather than a one-size-fits-all approach.”
“The findings are implemented gently by me and my team to preserve the artistic and competitive parts of his game,” said Yarwood. “He has done well thus far and is committed in the gym, nutritionally and mentally. Gone are the days of home-made players to a large extent. We can not ‘create a player’ through everything at our disposal. The main thing they have to bring is a determined attitude, will to win and intelligent work ethic. I have high hopes for this young man. He is a credit to his parents and a great addition to our diverse golf community at IJGA.”
Not only did Potdukhe earn an exemption into the 2018 National Championship on Hilton Head Island, but he will receive points towards year-end honors which includes state teams, all HJGT teams, Hurricane Cup, Junior Golf Scoreboard Ranking (JGS) and the South Carolina Junior Golf Association Heritage Points.