Staying away from the podium has its lessons. Winless for 20 months, Rashid Khan realised that the golf course can be an unkind place. Since 2014, when he won twice on the Asian Tour and once at home, hopes mounted. The family or peers weren’t responsible, he brought it on himself.
“Once in the winning zone, you’re hungry for more,” he said. When standards weren’t met, the angst grew and even the basis of his existence seemed under siege. “When things aren’t going your way, even the golf course and your (awry) shots can create pressure.”
Rashid was happy the winless streak ended with the Take Solutions Classic title at the Noida Golf Course on Saturday, and if another phase were to follow, he can claim better preparation.
Striving to keep the chin up by telling himself it was sport, there were occasions when doubt gained upper hand. In such times, he looked up to Ashok Kumar. Rashid’s senior at the Delhi Golf Club, Ashok had a standout 2010 when he won four times on the Professional Golf Tour of India. A drought ensued, which ended last year, and that helped Rashid take heart.
Be it Ashok or support from peers, Rashid hasn’t had to look far, and he stays thankful for that. The start to the week at the Noida Golf Course was marked by struggle on the greens, but he persevered, as he has come to realise. Help was at hand from the fringes. “Even while the putts weren’t going in, they (friends) kept telling me that I was playing well,” said Rashid.
Saturday was an exception though. The putter obeying the master, he scored heavily on the par-fives, and wasn’t coy about admitting that he threw frequent glances at the leaderboard.
“Doing that helps you plan.” A need arose when a double bogey on the 9th threatened to throw the contest open. The lead was down to two shots, but there was little cause for worry. A look around at the familiar faces around the green was enough to spur Rashid on.
278: Rashid Khan (71, 69, 68, 70) (Rs 7,50,000); 280: C Muniyappa (67, 72, 71, 70); Amardip Malik (72, 67, 71, 70) (Rs 3,99,950); 282: Honey Baisoya (72, 65, 72, 73) (Rs 2,49,900); 283: Shubhankar Sharma (71, 72, 72, 68); Sujjan Singh (70, 71, 71, 71) (Rs 1,87,475); 285: Khalin Joshi (73, 70, 69, 73) (Rs 1,50,000).