Shamim Khan would like to differ with US legend Ben Hogan’s words: “Golf is not a game of good shots. It is a game of bad shots.” Though the genial Delhi player was focussed on his craft, he was quick to list the benefits of playing three-ball with Ashok Kumar and Vijay Kumar. “I am not one to bother about the field or scores, but competing with good players helps.”
Watching Ashok dish out a flawless round of seven-under 65 did have the desired effect as it “boosted confidence” and stirred him into matching the rival’s effort. The result was more than encouraging as Shamim ended Day One of the PGTI Tour Championship two strokes shy of the leader.
It was a picture perfect finish for Match No. 9 with Vijay too returning a bogey-free round. At four-under 68, the veteran Lucknow pro was locked in a three-way tie for the third spot with Feroz Ali Mollah and Raju Singh.
The conditions on offer at the Classic Golf Resort were perfect — the rough down and the greens rolling well, and making the most of it, Ashok interspersed his birdies well. After picking up shots on the 4th, 5th and 8th, he birdied the 12th and 13th and signed off with a flourish, recording an eagle on the final hole. “Perfect round, no complaints,” was all he could blurt out before rushing off to attend to a medical emergency in the family.
Playing as he has been in the last few months, Shamim was in control of the proceedings from the start. “My putting and chipping stood out,” he said. This facet explained the flurry of birdies, read four, on the back nine, and they added up to the one on the 5th. Regrets, if any, was the “short iron play”.
Fourth on the Order of Merit, courtesy four 2nd spot finishes, Shamim’s eagerness to make up for a poor start to the year was apparent. “It hurts, but I’ve been playing well in the last 8-10 events, so am hopeful of finishing on a happy note,” he said.