DGC surprise: Suleman upsets defending champ | other | Hindustan Times
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DGC surprise: Suleman upsets defending champ

More than the joy, Suleman Ali appeared apologetic for being the cause behind Shamim Khan's exit. It was the years spent in oblivion, rather than the enormity of the occasion, that led the former to react awkwardly. Robin Bose reports. Key Results

other Updated: May 18, 2011 01:14 IST
Robin Bose

More than the joy, Suleman Ali appeared apologetic for being the cause behind Shamim Khan's exit. It was the years spent in oblivion, rather than the enormity of the occasion, that led the former to react awkwardly.

Reared on the greens of the Delhi Golf Club, like Shamim, dumping the defending champion on the opening day of the SRF All-India Matchplay Championship seemed incidental. Instead, Suleman's focus was on assuring himself that the equation with Shamim was intact. "Having taken to the sport at almost the same time, we are close friends and even during today's play there was no animosity," said the 30-year-old.

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Seeded 61st, 57 rungs below Shamim, the 2&1 scoreline was a throwback to the 2002 edition of the Matchplay when he had pulled a bunny out of the hat by upstaging Arjun Atwal on the 16th to win 3&2.

Known for his affinity for bogeys and missing cut regularly, the spotless card set Suleman apart. "It wasn't as if I played badly, said a crestfallen Shamim, pointing to his five birdies, "but while he stayed bogey-free, I dropped shots thrice."

Also aiding Suleman's campaign, which contained four birdies, was some sound chipping and putting.

The start was on familiar lines as Suleman lost the 2nd. Recovering well, he won the 4th with a birdie and went on to win the sixth, ninth and 12th, losing the 11th on the way.

Shamim was not the lone big name to bite the dust.

Vinod Kumar, last year's finalist and seeded 10th, was shown the door by the promising Mithun Perera of Sri Lanka, seeded 55th, 2&1.

Yet to shake off the disappointment of the Philippine Open, Himmat Rai, the 16th seed, crashed to No. 49 Sudhir Sharma, a two-time winner on the Feeder Tour, 1 Up.