Four better than Rashid and seven ahead of Islam

The battle of the two Khans — Shamim and Rashid — provided the thrills on the penultimate day of the Rs. 10 million BILT Open golf championship.

Friday proved a blissful day for Shamim whose stunning eight-under 64 made Rashid’s not-so-poor 73 look very ordinary in the context of the title-race.

A conservative Rashid saw his overnight five-stroke lead evaporate over the first 10 holes before Shamim established a four-stroke lead by signing off with his eighth birdie.

The eventful day ended with first-day leader Shamim regaining the clubhouse lead with an impressive 16-under 200, four better than Rashid and seven ahead of Mohammad Islam at the Delhi Golf Club course.

“I think 16-under is enough to win the title,” said Shamim after his second card of 64 in three days. “I will continue to stay focused on my game on Saturday. It is not always possible to keep the mind away from the scores of the nearest rivals, but I try,” shared Shamim, looking to win his first stroke-play title at his home course and third of the season.

Rare happening

Few expected such a fluctuation in the fortunes of the two leading contenders on this day. It is indeed rare to find a nine-stroke swing spread over 17 holes, that too, involving two players in the leader’s group.

Shamim, who lost his lead to Rashid after finding pars on all 18 holes on Thursday, made the most of the birdie-opportunities. Rashid, whose poor shots off the tee on the 11th and 12th holes resulted in a bogey and a double-bogey, respectively, was understandably frustrated since his putts did not drop to his liking on the front-nine.

After a three-foot birdie on the second hole, Shamim produced four successive birdies beginning from the sixth hole. The 30-footer putt on the sixth gave Shamim just the kind of confidence he needed to be more positive. Before the turn, Rashid could manage just one birdie, on the par-5 eighth. With Shamim picking up strokes almost at will, Rashid’s lead stood reduced to just one shot before the players began their homeward journey.

On the 10th, Rashid’s bogey brought the players level at 13-under. On the next, where Shamim saved par, Rashid took a ‘penalty drop’ after finding the bushes with his drive off the tee. The resultant double-bogey established Shamim’s two-stroke lead. Rashid picked up a shot on the 14th but Shamim birdied the 15th, 16th and 18th holes to race away to a comfortable lead.

The scores: Shamim Khan (64, 72, 64) 200; Rashid Khan (65, 66, 73) 204; Mohammad Islam (67, 74, 66) 207; Manav Jaini (69, 71, 68) 208; Om Prakash Chouhan (72, 70, 67), Mithun Perera (Sri) (71, 71, 67), Ashok Kumar (72, 67, 70) 209; Abhinav Lohan (69, 70, 71) 210; Jyoti Randhawa (69, 72, 71), Shankar Das (69, 70, 73) 212; Harmeet Kahlon (74, 69, 70), Ranjit Singh Rathore (69, 72, 72) 213; Deepinder Singh Kullar (73, 72, 69), Mukesh Kumar (79, 67, 68), Mandeo Singh Pathania (70, 75, 69), Anura Rohana (Sri) (71, 73, 70), Gulfam (68, 71, 75), Gaurav Ghei (78, 70, 66) 214; Amandeep Johl (71, 73, 71), Aditya Singh (74, 73, 68) and Harendra Gupta (73, 70, 72) 215.

Keywords: BILT Open golf

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