Home comfort rescues Rashid from the woods

Home comfort rescues Rashid from the woods

"Failure is the stepping stone for success” is an oft repeated cliche. It’s one of those first motivational statements they teach in school, as early as in first grade perhaps. It’s an extremely simple line and sticks with you throughout. Golfer Rashid Khan, currently India’s highest ranked professional at 185, will vouch for its deep power and meaning.

As the year 2018 wound up, Rashid, the 2010 Asian Games team silver-medallist and considered as one of the country’s talented young golfers, had hit rock bottom. From starting that year ranked 478, the 29-year-old had slipped to 784 and was slowly slipping away into oblivion. His game had gone out of bounds and he ended up losing his Asian Tour card. It was around the same time when tensions with Delhi Golf Club was rising too. The on-field struggles and off-field tussles left him a wreck, the golfer wondering whether he would find a way out of the woods.

“Sometimes when things go wrong, even when somebody offers you an advice you won’t be able to understand,” reveals Rashid in a chat with DH. “Your mind keeps processing a thousand things — is my driving bad, is my putting bad, is my chipping bad etc? Even when your friends pinpoint the issue, doubts keep creeping in. Simultaneously, the issue with DGC was also going on. It was too much for me to handle. I lost my Asian Tour card and had totally given up on my Olympic dreams.

“My game was so bad, I didn’t even go for the Asian Tour Q School because I knew I would blow it up. My plan was to chill for a year and straighten myself out. I started talking to myself and figured I was losing it in the mind and I needed to compose myself. So instead of taking a break, I opted to play in the PGTI circuit where the pressure would be considerably less. In golf, it’s all about scoring. I used to make a lot of birdies but I was making a lot of mistakes. I needed to cut them down. I focused a lot more on putting as I was driving quite decent. Now I have the confidence of making the putts that I didn't have during the tough phase. Sports is all about confidence and I’ve regained it now. The decision to play on the PGTI has worked wonders.”

Back in the confines of home comfort last year, Rashid rediscovered his A game that saw him win two Asian Tour titles in 2014. He triumphed thrice and finished inside top-10 on 11 out of 13 events he took part in last year. With a fair amount of world ranking points on offer in the Indian tour, Rashid rose from the rubble and placed himself in pole position to grab one of the Tokyo Olympics' spots.

Although the Games have been postponed, Rashid is keen on punching his ticket to Japan next year but wonders how his game will be once competition resumes. “Although we knew the Games could be cancelled when coronavirus struck, I was very disappointed when I heard the news that I would not be able to compete in the Olympics. Since my junior days, I’ve taken great pride in representing my country and I was really looking forward to it."

“I was in good shape, good rhythm, the rankings were on the surge, was rediscovering my game after a lull. I was really in the zone but such is life. I was ranked a little outside 200 at the end of 2019 and my aim this year was to push myself close to top 150. Now I don’t know how I am going to perform when competition resumes. Moving Olympics to next year is the right decision and now I get more time to further enhance my rankings,” concluded Rashid.