One stroke behind, Khalin Joshi eyes breakout win
Before they teed off in different parts of the world this week — Shubhankar Sharma at the PGA Championship and Khalin Joshi at the Take Solutions Masters, the two had a chat. Khalin learnt his golf at the Karnataka Golf Association and Shubhankar has a fair bit of experience of playing here on the Professional Golf Tour of India before graduating to bigger tours.
The conversation helped Khalin, who turned 26 on Saturday and finished a shot off the lead on Saturday, chalk up a plan for the week. The two pros agreed that 20-under would be enough for a win. At 13-under 200, Khalin is eying another round of seven-under 64 to be in line for the title on Sunday.
But here’s where assumptions end. Amid expectations of a maiden win on the Asian Tour on his home course, Khalin is aware that with 18 holes to play, a lot can happen. Two runner-up finishes in three years on the Asian Tour point to that. One of them came here last year. Khalin did what he had to, post a decent score, but beyond that there was little he could control.
“I want to play my game and not look at anybody. I set myself a target (20-under) and hopefully I can achieve it. What’s more important is I played bogey free (on Saturday). If I can go bogey free again, it would be great. But let’s not be greedy,” said Khalin, who began the day T8 and nine shots off the lead.
This is a lesson borne out of the T5 finish at the Maybank Championship earlier this year, which Shubhankar won. Among the deepest-field events he has figured in, Khalin was in the hunt on the final day till the 13th. A birdie would have tied for the lead, but fell back with a bogey.
On Saturday, the temptation to birdie the 18th and tie for the lead with Miguel Carballo was alluring, but Khalin knew better. Landing his approach shot 285 yards to the pin, he could have pressed on, but chose to lay up and played for par.
Wiser, there can’t be a better setting for Khalin to usher in a win on the global stage. As far as his game goes, most of the boxes have been ticked. If a dash of inspiration is required, all he needs to do is look up to his father, who has been quietly following him this week.
199: Miguel Carballo (66, 66, 67)
200: Khalin Joshi (67, 69, 64); Danthai Boonma (66, 61, 73)
201: Viraj Madappa (70, 65, 66); Chikkarangappa (69, 64, 68)
202: Miguel Tabuena (69, 68, 65); Maverick Antcliff (67, 65, 70); SSP Chawrasia (69, 65, 68); Honey Baisoya (70, 66, 66); Scott Vincent (66, 71, 65)