Constants have little place in Rashid Khan’s young life. Graduating from a basic handset, a high-end smart phone is what he’s now occupied with. Such is the fixation that even during a conversation at the BILT Open, the nimble fingers work feverishly on the keypad. The risk of being termed impolite is no deterrent as the eyes keep shifting to the screen to check the contents.
On the course, going for the pin has been an intrinsic quality since his amateur days. Though the tendency stays, but “with so much at stake”, since he turned professional two years ago, the urge to attack “all the time” is under check.
Rashid, replete with branded apparel adoring his assured and lithe frame, has, however, made an exception. The influence of his uncle, Maqbool, is what it was when he coaxed a confused nine-year-old into wielding the club.
From Rashid’s initiation into golf to the resounding slap he received when his temperament developed cracks, instances of Maqbool’s defining role abound the Delhi Golf Club (DGC).
The master of his fate, Rashid believes he is adept at handling the doubts that creep in from time to time. So, when a truant mind caused a series of missed cuts at the start of the year, Maqbool was his go-to man.
Though the results took time to come, the two persisted. The start to the Indonesian Masters, on the Asian Tour, was something he had reluctantly come to live with.
With over-par rounds to his name, Rashid teed off for the last time. A bogey-par-bogey start meant there was little to look forward to yet again.
“That was when I told myself to chill.” Letting go, he finished two-under for the final day. Since that moment in late April, Rashid has not looked back. After winning a play-off and a series of top-10 finishes on the domestic tour, the mind is at rest.
After Wednesday's 65, it was yet another strong finish, and the 66 handed Rashid a five-stroke lead over Shamim Khan, the overnight leader.
A sub-par score at the halfway stage of a professional event at DGC is a first for the 21-year-old, and Maqbool again found a mention. His name quietly tucked in between Rashid's lines on how his driving and putting skills have stood by him this week.
The joy was apparent but he chose not to share it. Avoiding eye contact by fiddling with the smart phone was probably a way of hiding what was going on within.