Rashid reigns supreme

Indian kickstarts season with thrilling play-off victory

Rashid reigns supreme

 Rashid Khan launched his first full Asian Tour career with a thrilling victory in the season-opening SAIL-SBI Open as he edged out Bangladesh’s Siddikur in a play-off at the Delhi Golf Club here on Saturday.

Both players finished the regulation 72 holes 18-under par 270, six strokes ahead of Sweden’s Rikard Karlberg. Carlos Pigem of Spain, Swiss Martin Rominger and India’s SSP Chowrasia finished tied fourth.

In the first extra hole, Rashid went for an aggressive all-or-nothing approach shot from the fairway after to place the ball just 20-feet from the pin. He missed the eagle putt but still made a birdie.

Siddikur, on the other hand, took three shots to reach the green and could only make par after missing out on a 10-feet birdie putt. He carded three-under 69 in the final round.

“This is a special win for me because it came at my home course. I had lost last year. So it was really important,” said he 23-year-old Rashid, who managed a final round of 71.

“The way I played on the first day, I was confident but Siddikur played very well in last two days and at the end the title came in a play-off. I am happy,” Rashid, who became richer by $54,000, added.

He had lost to Anirban Lahiri in a play-off at the same event last year here playing on the PGTI card.

Two-time defending champion Lahiri, Asian tour winner Jyoti Randhawa, Abhijit Singh and Sri Lanka’s Mithun Perera signed off tied eighth at nine-under 279.
Starting the day under a laden sky on a chilly Saturday morning, Rashid finished the third round at three- under 69 to hang on to a two-stroke lead over Siddikur, who turned in a five-under 67 for the third successive time.

However, Rashid’s fortunes tumbled early in the fourth round as Siddikur caught up with the Indian at 17-under after firing an eagle on the first hole.

But Siddikur then stumbled on a bogey-birdie patch at the third and fourth holes as Rashid once again gained a one-stroke lead when he scored a birdie on the seventh hole. But a bogey on the ninth, meant the duo were once again on an even keel.

A 13th hole bogey by Rashid took Siddikur atop the leaderboard once again. But a lucky birdie at the 17th hole helped him to claw back as the duo birdied the 18th to take the match into the play-off.

“I want to thank my family and friends but special thanks to Ashok Kumar, who helped me change a few things in my swing and I really hit the ball well,” Rashid said.

The Delhi golfer lost a few play-offs in the past and he said he was happy he could pull off this time. “I played seven play offs in last 14 months and won only three.

Even the last event I lost in a play-off at BILT Open. So I was scared. It was 50-50 for me. With this victory, Rashid will receive a three-year exemption from Asian Tour and the Indian said it means a lot to him.

Leading scores (after 72 holes, Indians unless mentioned): 270: Rashid Khan (61, 69, 69, 71), Siddikur Rahman (Ban, 67, 67, 67, 69. Rashid wins via play-off. 276: Rikard Karlberg (Swe, 71, 70, 67, 68); 277: Carlos Pigem (Eng, 69, 71, 69, 68), SSP Chowrasia (68, 69, 72, 68), Martin Rominger (Sui, 72, 63, 70, 72); 278: Steve Lewton (Eng, 68, 70, 68, 72); 279: Abhijit Chadha (68, 73, 69, 69), Jyoti Randhawa (71, 69, 70, 69), Anirban Lahiri (70, 66, 69, 74), Mithun Perera (SL, 66, 68, 73, 72).

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