Rashid Khan takes five-shot lead at SAIL-SBI Open
New Delhi, Feb 26 (IANS) Indian prospect Rashid Khan shot a spectacular 11-under-par 61 to snatch a five-shot lead in the first round of the season-opening SAIL-SBI Open at the Delhi Golf Club here Wednesday.
The 23-year-old, runner-up last year after losing to countryman Anirban Lahiri in a play-off, nailed nine birdies and one eagle for his career’s lowest round, which was one shot shy of the course record held by Liang Wen-chong of China and the Asian Tour’s lowest 18-hole mark held jointly by Liang and England’s Lee Westwood.
Sri Lanka’s Mithun Perera and Akinori Tani of Japan shot matching 66s to trail the runaway leader while Bangladeshi Siddikur Rahman and Australia’s Scott Barr came home with 67s in the $300,000 Asian Tour event.
“This is my best round,” enthused Khan, who is the Indian PGTI number one. “It was really important for me. I’ve been trying to shoot double digits and I’ve been close in the past. I’ve managed it now, I’m really happy.”
The slender Indian, touted as a future star of the game after an impressive amateur career which included a silver medal at the 2010 Asian Games, turned in 32 and then romped home in 29, thanks to five more birdies and a superb eagle on the 14th hole after drilling a rescue approach to 12 feet of the flag.
The thought of shooting the magical 59 flashed across his mind after he moved to double digits under par through 16 holes but his hopes ended when he could only par the par three 17th hole. “On 17, I took the wrong club, and hit it past the flag and had a really good putt and just missed it,” said Khan.
With a full Asian Tour card in his hand for the 2014 season after he finished 40th on the Order of Merit through only five starts, Khan hopes to make up for last year’s SAIL-SBI Open play-off defeat to countryman Anirban Lahiri at a course which he calls “my second home.”
Perera, another newcomer who has impressed his fellow competitors, has won three events on the Indian circuit in as many weeks but is dreaming of a first Asian Tour triumph. He started his day strongly with an easy birdie on 10 and finished off his round in style, shooting two birdies and an eagle over his last three holes.
The ever-consistent Siddikur, who won the Hero Indian Open at the fabled Delhi course in November, snared seven birdies against two bogeys to move into the title mix. Title holder Lahiri was disappointed he limped home in 37 after making three birdies on his outward nine as he ended the day nine shots back of Khan.
“Hats off to Rashid ? that’s an incredible round of golf. I think I just lost momentum and concentration a little bit on the back nine. Tomorrow is another day. I’ll have to shoot really low.”
Scores after round 1 of the SAIL – SBI Open being played at the par 72, 6,928 Yards Delhi GC course (a- denotes amateur):
61 – Rashid KHAN (IND).
66 – Mithun PERERA (SRI), Akinori TANI (JPN).
67 – Scott BARR (AUS), Siddikur RAHMAN (BAN).
68 – S.S.P CHOWRASIA (IND), Chikka S (IND), Sanjay KUMAR (IND), C. MUNIYAPPA (IND), Steve LEWTON (ENG), Angelo QUE (PHI), Digvijay SINGH (IND), Shamim KHAN (IND), KIM Gi-whan (KOR), George GANDRANATA (INA), Abhijit CHADHA (IND).
69 – Vikrant CHOPRA (IND), Carlos PIGEM (ESP), Thaworn WIRATCHANT (THA), Kapil KUMAR (IND), Marcus BOTH (AUS), Shubhankar SHARMA (IND), GULFAM (IND), Chapchai NIRAT (THA), Chiragh KUMAR (IND), Iain STEEL (MAS), SHIN Hyuk-chul (KOR), Prom MEESAWAT (THA), Thanyakon KHRONGPHA (THA), Unho PARK (AUS).
70 – Sattaya SUPUPRAMAI (THA), Ryan MCCARTHY (AUS), David LIPSKY (USA), M. DHARMA (IND), Poom SAKSANSIN (THA), Mukesh KUMAR (IND), Anirban LAHIRI (IND), Chawalit PLAPHOL (THA).