It took a nervous birdie-putt on the second playoff hole to end Shamim Khan’s 17-year wait for a maiden stroke-play title on his home course.
Shamim, who started the final round of the BILT Open golf championship with a four-stroke lead over Rashid Khan, was forced into a play-off after the latter birdied the last hole of regulation play at the Delhi Golf Club course on Saturday.
With the players tied at 14-under 272, the playoff action on the 18th hole saw Rashid sink a stupendous 25-footer birdie to stay alive. Thereafter, the players found themselves on the 18th tee-box for the third time in succession and this time, Shamim’s belief in his driving made the decisive difference.
Shamim stayed in the middle of the fairway and then unleashed a perfect approach shot to land just inside the front edge of the green. Rashid’s second shot placed him far to the right of the ‘pin’.
Shamim then stroked his first putt to under five feet from the flag while Rashid chipped to around 12 feet from the ‘cup’.
Tense final moments
Once Rashid missed the birdie-putt and ended with a par, Shamim needed to putt and win his third title of the season. Amid mounting tension, he gently stroked his putt and watched anxiously as the ball rolled towards the cup. The ball momentarily paused at the lip of the cup before dropping in, much to the joy and relief of Shamim and his caddy.
“Even half-a-roll less and the putt wouldn’t have dropped,” admitted Shamim when talking of the stroke that clinched him the biggest cheque since turning professional in 1995.
“At that stage, I thought even if I miss (the birdie-putt), there will be another playoff hole.” For his effort, Shamim kept the replica of the winner’s trophy and a cheque of Rs. 16,16,500.
Rashid, who lost in the playoff for the second week in succession — having surrendered the title to Harendra Gupta in the Crompton Greaves Open in Mumbai — once again collected Rs. 11,16,500. Manav Jaini made it Delhi’s 1-2-3 by taking the third spot and Rs. 6,26,500.
It was Shamim’s double-bogey on the third hole and a bogey on the fourth that raised Rashid’s hopes of catching up. For the better part of the day, the two players were separated by just one stroke until Rashid birdied the final hole.
“In playoff, the one who hits straighter often wins. I knew I had a better chance since Rashid could not have maintained the consistency of his drives under pressure,” shared Shamim who now heads the Order of Merit with winnings of Rs. 37,33,780 from 16 outings, ahead of Rashid’s Rs. 34,38,822 from 14 starts.
The scores: Shamim Khan (64, 72, 64, 74), Rashid Khan (65, 66, 73, 70) 274; Manav Jaini (69, 71, 68, 71) 279; Mithun Perera (Sri) (71, 71, 67, 71), Abhinav Lohan (69, 70, 71, 70) 280; Ashok Kumar (72, 67, 70, 73), Shankar Das (69, 70, 73, 70), Mohammad Islam (67, 74, 66, 75) 282; Mukesh Kumar (79, 67, 68, 70), Om Prakash Chouhan (72, 70, 67, 75), Jyoti Randhawa (69, 72, 71, 72), Deepinder Singh Kullar (73, 72, 69, 70) 284; Gaurav Ghei (78, 70, 66, 72) 286; Chiragh Kumar (74, 73, 70, 70) 287; Harendra Gupta (73, 70, 73, 73) 288.
Keywords: BILT Open