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Jeev, Rashid stand on equal ground

Apart from their interest in golf, Jeev Milkha Singh and Rashid Khan have little in common. But both men believe in charting their destiny, especially when the chips are down. Robin Bose reports.

other Updated: Feb 18, 2011 00:11 IST
Robin Bose

Apart from their interest in golf, Jeev Milkha Singh and Rashid Khan have little in common. But both men believe in charting their destiny, especially when the chips are down. Faced with a situation that could have been debilitating, the two embraced the challenge and used it to whet the appetite to go the extra yard.

Since the early hours of Thursday, the script unfolded unlike the way Jeev would have liked. Scheduled for an 8.25 am tee-off, the plan was to wind up the opening round of the Avantha Masters and spend quality time with the family over lunch.

Instead, the shroud of fog over the DLF Golf & Country Club caused a delay of three-and-hours and he had to redraw the schedule, teeing off after the meal.

Starting off from the 10th, a 30-feet putt for birdie on the 11th signalled a sound start but Jeev hadn't bargained for what followed. The tee-shot on the 13th struck a floodlight tower and according to an "additional local rule", the stroke had to be replayed. Unaware, Jeev went ahead and played the second shot from the spot where the ball had landed after rebounding off the pole. The error cost him a two-stroke penalty. "I should have read the fact-sheet properly," said Jeev with a click of the tongue. Despite the remorse, he used the setback to give himself a "jumpstart".

Making birdie on the 15th and 18th, which toned down the effect of the double bogey on the 16th, Jeev made the turn and played his back-nine as if to prove a point. The three birdies and an eagle on the 9th from 45 feet placed him in a six-way tie for the fifth spot along with Rashid. The Indians were two strokes shy of clubhouse leader Robert-Jan Derksen (66) and one adrift of the trio of Mark Foster, Julio Zapata and Darren Beck.

Call it ignorance or poor communication, Rashid had to endure humiliation when he was barred entry into the private club for the practice round on Tuesday. It was only after a series of frantic phone calls and the intervention of higher authorities that the 20-year-old was allowed in.

Rashid chose not to tread the course the next day and instead gave vent to the pent up emotions by silently working his way up the leaderboard in his third international outing in a professional career that is just five tournaments old.