Chandigarh: Delhi’s Rashid Khan, who largely went unnoticed on the first three days of the Rs. 30 lakh TATA Steel PGTI Players Championship Presented by Chandigarh Golf Club, knocked out all his closest rivals with a gallant final round of six-under-66 to register a two-shot victory at 13-under-275.
The 28-year-old Rashid (70-68-71-66), a two-time Asian Tour winner, earned a just reward for firing the last day’s best score as he lifted his 12th professional trophy which was also his 10th on the PGTI.
Khan’s second title of the season pushed him up from second place to first position in the 2019 TATA Steel PGTI Order of Merit as his season’s earnings now read Rs. 25,68,453. Rashid overtook previous money list leader Chikkarangappa of Bengaluru.
Noida’s Gaurav Pratap Singh (69-67-71-70) and round three leader Shankar Das (68-68-68-73) of Kolkata, who were both in contention till the final stages at the Chandigarh Golf Club (CGC), claimed joint second position at 11-under-277.
The highest-placed golfers from the host city of Chandigarh were the trio of Aadil Bedi (67), Karandeep Kochhar (68) and Harendra Gupta (69) as they all ended up in tied eighth with matching totals of seven-under-281.
Rashid Khan, lying overnight tied fifth and five off the lead, turned the tables with a top-notch performance on Friday to continue his hot streak which began late last year. Rashid, who took home the winner’s cheque worth Rs. 4,84,950, has now recorded three wins in the last six months on the PGTI.
Khan, who had struggled to hole putts all week, had a quiet start to round four as he was one-under over the front-nine on Friday having sunk two birdies at the cost of a bogey.
But Rashid’s fortunes were suddenly on the upswing when he birdied the 10th and 11th. He played a fantastic second shot to recover from the trees on the 10th that left him an eight feet birdie putt which he converted. A 25-feet birdie conversion on the next hole added to the confidence of the 2013 and 2016 PGTI Order of Merit champion.
Khan’s consistent ball-striking set up three more up and down birdies for him on the 13th, 16th and 17th that helped him snatch the lead and finally the title from Gaurav Pratap Singh in what can be termed as a memorable come-from-behind victory.
Rashid said, “It’s great to win my second trophy this year. I’ve gone through some tough times over the last two years but I’m glad that my game is peaking once again.
“I was hitting it well through the week but was just not able to make the putts. But the turnaround happened on the 10th hole today where I recovered from a tricky position and then converted an eight-footer for birdie. I made an important minor adjustment in my putting stroke on that hole. That proved to be the game-changer for me as I sank all the putts thereafter.
“I knew three to four birdies on the last six holes would probably take me into a playoff with Gaurav. Once I made a brilliant par-save on the 15th, I told myself to just focus on hitting fairways to give myself a chance. I then grabbed my opportunities on the 16th and 17th. If one has to win, one has to always convert those half chances and that’s what I did successfully.”
Gaurav Pratap Singh, lying overnight tied third and three off the lead, emerged as leader on day four and a favourite for the title when he traded four birdies for a bogey over the first 11 holes.
After conceding the lead to Rashid, Gaurav once again drew level with him thanks to his birdie on the 17th. But a couple of erratic shots on the 18th resulted in a double-bogey for Singh and dashed his title hopes.
Shankar Das had an off day with a 73 after his three rounds of 68. He thus finished tied second with Gaurav Pratap Singh.
Greater Noida’s Sudhir Sharma (73), who set the new course record of 64 earlier in the tournament, secured fourth place at 10-under-278.
Indian star Jyoti Randhawa closed the week in tied 40th at one-over-289.