Ahmedabad: Delhi’s Rashid Khan stole the show on the final day of the PGTI Ahmedabad Masters presented by Kalhaar Blues & Greens as he registered an exhilarating come-from-behind victory over last year’s champion Khalin Joshi of Bengaluru.
Rashid, who began the day, trailing third round leader Khalin by three strokes, posted a resolute three-under-69 in round four, to come up trumps at the end with a final tally of 12-under-276. Khalin shot a final round one-over-73 to finish runner-up at 11-under-277 at the Rs. 30 lakh event.
Rashid Khan (67-69-71-69), lying overnight second, made the early breakthroughs on day four as he erased the three-shot deficit between Khalin Joshi (68-65-71-73) and himself by the sixth hole. The three-shot swing came as a result of Khan gaining shots on the first and sixth, the latter from 15 feet, and Joshi dropping a bogey on the sixth.
At this stage, the contest between the two long-time friends, 25-year-old Rashid and 24-year-old Khalin, seemed set for a nail-biting finish.
But Rashid lost some momentum and conceded a one-shot lead to Khalin when he mixed two bogeys with a birdie over the next four holes. Khan missed the green on the seventh and 10th that led to the two bogeys.
Both the players birdied the 11th, but Rashid got back to level terms when he picked a second straight birdie on the par-5 12th where Khalin missed out from the centre of the fairway.
The buzz among the professionals who had finished their rounds was that the par-5 14th hole would be the decider and that is exactly what happened. Khan went two in front on the 14th after making an up and down for birdie even as Joshi, who struggled with his hitting in round four, missed the fairway and bogeyed that hole.
There was no looking back for Rashid from there on. A bogey on 16 didn’t do much damage to his round as he coasted to a one-shot win thereby dousing Khalin’s hopes of defending his title. It was his second win within a span of 40 days and his seventh overall on the PGTI.
Rashid said, “The wind was up today and I knew a round of four or five under would do the job for me. I was very confident about my putting going into the last round as I had been very consistent on the greens all week. I had done well from a range of about 10 to 12 feet and not made a single three-putt in the previous three rounds. I managed to keep that record intact on the final day.
“This has to be one of my best wins so far. It was great to turn it around despite being three behind after round three. I think the two-shot swing in my favour on the 14th was the turning point of the day. However, it was a tough fight till the end.
“I feel I’m in the winning zone now and the few things that I worked on this year are shaping up well. I really enjoyed myself here at the Kalhaar Blues & Greens as the course was in great condition and presented quite a few challenges. I look forward to coming back here next year,” added an elated Rashid.
The win that also accounted for Khan’s second title of the year, lifted him from fifth place to second position in the Rolex Ranking as he took home the winner’s cheque worth Rs. 4,50,000.
Panchkula’s Shubhankar Sharma continues to lead the rankings with season’s earnings of Rs. 16,42,680. Rashid has closed the gap on the leader, as his total earnings now stand at Rs. 15,89,910. Khalin Joshi moved up from fourth to third (Rs. 14,81,400) after his runner-up finish in Ahmedabad.
Bengaluru’s Chikkarangappa, who shot the day’s best score of 67, finished tied third at eight-under-280 along with Sri Lankan Anura Rohana (69).
Om Prakash Chouhan of Mhow aced the 11th during his final round of 73. He claimed fifth place at seven-under-281.
Shubhankar Sharma secured joint sixth place at three-under-285 to continue in the lead in the Rolex Ranking. Chandigarh’s Ajeetesh Sandhu also took a share of sixth place.
Ahmedabad’s Varun Parikh, the lone amateur to make the cut, bagged the trophy for the best performance by an amateur at the event. He finished overall 38th at 15-over-303.