Raised on the tight fairways of the Delhi Golf Club, Shamim Khan commands a following on the course. No sooner after the tee-shot at the 1st on Wednesday, did several pair of cupped hands rise in unison to track the ball’s trajectory.
As should be the case, the shot landed on the fairway and evoked mild clapping. After a quiet acknowledgement, the diminutive figure moved on with quick strides while strategising on how to go about the second shot. The previous day’s 73 hung like deadweight and the obvious plan was to turn it around on Day II of the LG Masters of PGTI.
Arriving where the ball had come to rest, Shamim took the shot after some shadow practice, but stopped short as the group in front was yet to clear the way. As the minutes ticked by, the normally unflappable Shamim got fidgety. The needless break had an unsettling effect and caused him to bogey the par-five. Throwing a glance in the direction from where the groans had emanated, the 32-year-old raised a hand, as if to assure the loyal band. “The break did disturb my rhythm briefly but at no juncture (on Wednesday or after the bogey) did I worry,” said Shamim. “I told myself there were 17 holes and two days to go, Dilli abhi bahut door hai.”
The confidence rubbed off on the game as he went on a birdie-making spree between the 5th and 8th. A bogey on the 9th was but an aberration as the exercise of picking up shots gained momentum on the back nine.
“Nine birdies on this course is no joke,” he said proudly after submitting a card of 65 that left him in a tie for the third spot at 138, and a stroke shy of leaders Sanjay Kumar and Shankar Das. The seven-under for the day stays his best effort and was a repeat of the showing in the ONGC Masters at the Noida Golf Course, which he went on to win in the 2007-08 season.
The leaders were far removed from the birdie blitzkrieg. Sanjay, the overnight leader, bogeyed the 7th and 16th to negate the advantage and looked set to blink yet again in the face of pressure. “Pressure? No way, I’m past the stage when it affects me,” he said, brushing the query aside with a wave.