Experienced Shamim Khan weathers the storm, beats young Veer Ahlawat in playoff to lift second IndianOil SERVO Masters Golf title
Digboi, Assam, November 25, 2017: The experienced Shamim Khan weathered the storm called Veer Ahlawat to register his second win at the IndianOil SERVO Masters Golf on Saturday.
The 39-year-old Shamim came through in a playoff against the 21-year-old Veer after both the Delhi-based professionals ended the regulation 72 holes with identical scores of nine-under-279 at the tranquil Digboi Golf Links. It was Khan’s third title of the season and his 15th overall.
Khan took home the winner’s cheque of Rs. 6 lakh from the Rs. 40 lakh event and continued in second place on the PGTI Order of Merit. However, with Shamim’s season earnings moving to Rs. 35,58,250, he has now narrowed the gap between himself and the money list leader Udayan Mane to just Rs. 1 lakh.
Shamim Khan (72-66-71-70), the overnight joint leader, looked in control when he sank his second birdie of the day, a 35-footer on the fifth, which gave him a two-shot lead. But there was a twist when Veer Ahlawat (71-70-69-69), who was overnight tied third and one off the lead, produced birdies on the sixth, seventh and ninth while Shamim dropped a bogey on the eighth.
After nine holes, Veer, playing one group ahead of the leaders, drew level with Shamim to emerge as a top contender. Ahlawat, playing only his second season as a professional, finally took the sole lead when he drove the 12th green to set up a birdie. Veer, who plays at the DLF Golf & Country Club, Gurgaon, dropped a shot on the 13th but regained his outright lead with a brilliant chip-putt birdie on the 15th.
Ahlawat then missed a few chances to seal his maiden title, notably an up and down for par on the 18th. The match went into a playoff as Khan made pars on his last 10 holes which included a crucial five feet conversion on the 18th.
Veer hit the green while Shamim was in the bunker after two shots each during the playoff on the par-4 18th. Khan managed to turn the tables with a gem of a bunker shot that set up a tap-in for par. The six-foot-three-inch tall Ahlawat, on the other hand, three-putted from 20 feet for a bogey that gave Shamim his 13th PGTI title.
Shamim, who previously won in Digboi in 2014, said, “My putting wasn’t great for the second consecutive day and when I missed a two-footer for par on the eighth, I knew I was in trouble.
“However, I hung in there with pars all the way till the end. I was quite happy to take it into the playoff after having trailed Veer on the back-nine. In a playoff situation, experience always counts. That’s what saw me through at the end. I felt Veer tried a bit too hard during the playoff.
“The birdies were hard to come by on the last two days but my chipping average was excellent. I landed all my chips within a short distance of the pins. The win puts me in a good position to once again contend for the Order of Merit crown,” added Khan, the 2012 PGTI Order of Merit champion.
Veer Ahlawat, who came close to causing a major upset on Saturday, jumped 14 spots to 16th position in the Order of Merit as a result of his career-best runner-up finish.
Ahlawat said, “The four birdies on the first 12 holes really got my confidence going. I checked the leaderboard on the 15th and that’s when I realized that I was very close to victory.
“I knew Shamim will not be easy to beat but I was quite confident as I was hitting and putting really well. I just couldn’t end it well. I didn’t feel much pressure but I think I got a little excited.
“But I’m quite happy with this performance as it is my best finish as a professional. I feel I’m now coming into my own after an ordinary rookie season on the PGTI last year. Every aspect of my game is better this year.”
Manu Gandas of Gurgaon, another 21-year-old, fired a final round of 71 to take third place at seven-under-281.
Bangladesh’s Md Zamal Hossain Mollah struck a 67, the best score of the last round, to end up in tied fourth at five-under-283 along with Noida’s Rahul Bajaj (71).
Bengaluru’s M Dharma, the joint leader from round three, slipped to tied 10th at two-under-286 after a fourth round of 77.
Digboi’s Dulal Kalowar (76-74-76-77), the only local player to make the cut, shot a 77 on Saturday to end the week in tied 47th at 15-over-303.