Golfer Khan triumphs at SAIL-SBI Open

New Delhi, March 1: Indian golfer Rashid Khan claimed a play-off victory over Bangladeshi Siddikur Rahman at the SAIL-SBI Open with a birdie on the first extra hole Saturday.

The 23-year-old completed a memorable wire-to-wire victory at his home course, the Delhi Golf Club (DGC), which also atoned for his heartbreaking play-off defeat at the same event a year ago to countryman Anirban Lahiri.

Khan’s maiden Asian Tour victory was worth $54,000 after tapping in his birdie on the par five 18th hole as Siddikur could only make par in the season-opening $300,000 event.

“It feels awesome. It’s my home course and winning here is special. It’s amazing. I lost this event last year. The way I started on the first day with a 61, it was an amazing week. I don’t like play-offs. I played seven play-offs in the last 14 months and I won only three. It’s a lottery,” said a jubilant Khan, who carded a final round one-under-par 71 and totalled 18-under-par 270 for the week.

Khan needed a stroke of fortune in regulation play which forced extra time. He trailed Siddikur by one with two remaining but produced a lucky birdie on 17 to draw level. Both players birdied the 18th hole under immense pressure to take the tournament into a play-off.

Khan’s aggressive approach paid off when he produced an imperious three wood approach shot from 269 yards out which landed on the apron before taking two more shots to defeat Siddikur, who missed his birdie chance from 15 feet.

“On 17, I actually hit a bad shot, hit it right, but I don’t know how my ball pitched over the bunker and rolled to one and a half feet to the flag. I was shocked. It was really lucky,” said Khan, who will now be fully exempted on the Asian Tour until the end of 2015.

“I had to be aggressive in the play-off. I had to go for it. I took out the driver and hit a good shot in the middle of the fairway and then had about 269 yards to the flag. I went with a three wood and that was one of the best shots I’ve hit.”

When Round 3 was completed this morning, Siddikur trailed Khan by two but soon tied the Indian with an opening eagle. His hopes of a second title at DGC, after clinching the Indian Open in November, faded as he missed his long birdie chance.

Sweden’s Rikard Karlberg, a two-time winner in Delhi, finished third after closing with a 68, six shots from the play-off duo, while S.S.P. Chowrasia of India, Spain’s Carlos Pigem and Martin Rominger of Switzerland shared fourth place on 277.

Two-time defending champion Anirban Lahiri, who was bidding to become the first man to win three straight titles at the same tournament, closed with a disappointing 74 for tied eighth with Sri Lanka’s Mithun Perera (72) and countryman Jyoti Randhawa (69).

Leaderboard:

270 – Rashid Khan (IND) 61-69-69-71, Siddikur Rahman (BAN) 67-67-67-69.

(Khan wins play-off with birdie on the first extra hole)

276 – Rikard Karlberg (SWE) 71-70-67-68.

277 – Carlos Pigem (ESP) 69-71-69-68, S.S.P Chowrasia (IND) 68-69-72-68, Martin Rominger (SUI) 72-63-70-72.

278 – Steve Lewton (ENG) 68-70-68-72.

279 – Abhijit Chadha (IND) 68-73-69-69, Jyoti Randhawa (IND) 71-69-70-69, Anirban Lahiri (IND) 70-66-69-74, Mithun Perera (SRI) 66-68-73-72.

280 – Rahil Gangjee (IND) 71-70-68-71, Chiragh Kumar (IND) 69-73-70-68, Arnond Vongvanij (THA) 74-69-67-70, Sutijet Kooratanapisan (THA) 71-72-69-68, Akinori Tani (JPN) 66-71-71-72, Scott Barr (AUS) 67-70-72-71.

281 – Thanyakon Khrongpha (THA) 69-73-69-70, David Lipsky (USA) 70-70-71-70, George Gandranata (INA) 68-70-71-72.

IANS