Displaying nerves of steel, Rashid Khan fired three successive birdies, including one in the play-off against Bangladesh's Siddikur Rahman, to win the $300,000 SAIL-SBI golf title at the Delhi Golf Club course here on Saturday.
Trailing by a stroke with just two holes remaining, Rashid played aggressively for a birdie-birdie finish to tie with Siddikur. On the first playoff hole, Rashid tapped in for birdie after Siddikur missed his birdie-putt.
The triumph, worth $54,000, was Rashid's first on the Asian Tour.
Last year, this local pro lost the playoff to Anirban Lahiri but went on to top the domestic tour's Order of Merit.
Rashid carded a one-under 71, his worst of the week, for an aggregate of 18-under 270, a tally that Siddikur managed following a 69 that came after three successive scores of 67.
On a day when Rashid played 29 holes, including 11 of the third round, Siddikur did not take long to stake his claim to the title. Starting the fourth round two strokes behind, Siddikur bridged the gap with an eagle on the opening hole. Though Rashid twice surged ahead, Siddikur soon caught up.
Rashid eventually trailed following a bogey on the 13th and a steady Siddikur stayed ahead until a dramatic birdie from the local pro set up a thrilling finish.
In Rashid’s words, “on the 17th, I actually hit a bad shot, but I don't know how my ball pitched over the bunker and rolled to one-and-a-half feet to the flag... It was really lucky.”
Both players birdied the 18th to force the playoff. Rashid’s three-wood approach shot from 269 yards set up the birdie before Siddikur missed his birdie from 15 feet.
This breakthrough victory on the Asian Tour earned Rashid an exemption from playing qualifiers in the continent until the end of 2015.
Siddikur, winner of the prestigious Indian Open here in November last year, did not sound too disappointed.
“It was a good play-off. I played my game but, maybe, I should have played the driver. I had used the three-wood in the first four rounds and made birdie every day. But it wasn't the case in the play-off.”
Rashid Khan (61, 69, 69, 71), Siddikur Rahman (Ban) (67, 67, 67, 69) 270 (Rashid won on the first playoff hole); Rikard Karlberg (Swe) (71, 70, 67, 68) 276; Carlos Pigem (Esp) (69, 71, 69, 68), S.S.P. Chowrasia (68, 69, 72, 68), Martin Rominger (Sui) (72, 63, 70, 72) 277; Steve Lewton (Eng) (68, 70, 68, 72) 278; Abhijit Chadha (68, 73, 69, 69), Jyoti Randhawa (71, 69, 70, 69), Anirban Lahiri (70, 66, 69, 74) and Mithun Perera (Sri) (66, 68, 73, 72) 279