Special Report by Rajlaksmi Retesh
March 6, 2014: Rashid Khan has emerged as the number one golfer on the Asian Tour’s Order of Merit after his phenomenal triumph at the season’s inaugural SAIL-SBI Open at Delhi Golf Club. He has also jumped 300 places up in the Official World Golf Rankings to 302nd position.
A true prodigy of Delhi Golf Course, where his father worked at the pro shop for over 30 years, Rashid began his golfing journey at the age of nine. Young Rashid borrowed clubs from his uncle Mohd. Maqbool Khan, a former caddie turned pro golfer. Sighting his potential, Rashid was soon offered to get enrolled into the Junior Golf Development program at DGC in 1999. He never looked back ever since.
“I am still indebted to Mr IVS Juneja, the current President of the Delhi Golf Club, who gifted me an Accu Form junior golf set,” the golfer who turned 23 last month, recalled.
He won the All India Junior Golf Championship title in ‘A’ Category at KGA, Bangalore in December 2006.
Rashid claimed the Faldo Series Asia trophy in sensational style at Mission Hills in December 2007, shooting a final-day 66 that included a back nine of 31 in front of legendary golfer Nick Faldo.
[highlight]I am still indebted to Mr IVS Juneja, the current President of the Delhi Golf Club, who gifted me an Accu Form junior golf set [/highlight]
“I remember fondly the six-time Major winner’s reaction when I eagled the par-four 15th. When I birdied the next hole, Nick told my coach I was a machine,” said Rashid.
“That win at Mission Hills was a highly significant moment in my young career. It was a great feeling, especially as it was my first overseas win. The reaction in India was great… suddenly everyone knew who Rashid Khan was and I won my next junior tournament in Mumbai.”
He went on to play in the international Faldo Series Grand Final in Brazil in 2008 on legendary golfer Nick Faldo’ s invitation.
Rashid continued his consistency in 2008 season as well where he won four times on the junior circuit and conquered the LG Northern India Amateur title. He was invited to play 2008 Volvo Masters of Asia.
He won the National Amateur Tour in 2009. He went on to win Singapore Amateur title in October and lined up alongside some of Asia’s top professionals in the Cambodian Open at Phokeethra Country Club in Siem Reap in November.
The Goodricke Eastern India Amateur Golf Championship title at RCGC in December marked his first win in a match play event, and tenth overall on the IGU National Amateur Tour, when he decided to turn pro.
Rashid’s pro career took off after he clinched his maiden title -The Surya Nepal Masters in 2011. He finished second in quite a few tournaments – DLF Masters 2011, CG Open 2012, BILT Open 2012, PGTI Players Championship 2012, Standard Chartered Open 2012 and came close to winning the SAIL-SBI Open in March 2013 losing in a play-off to Anirban Lahiri. However, his second place at SAIL-SBI earned him full card on the Asian Tour, which he had failed to qualify for in past three years.
Rashid finished tied fourth in the US$1.25 Million Hero Indian Open 2013, after winning PGTI-BILT Open title in 2013.
His victory on his maiden Asian Tour venture has opened a world of opportunities for him in international golfing circuit.
“I think I’ve progressed as a golfer. It’s been an exciting journey in the past few years. I’m going to play on the Asian Tour now. I’m just going to go all those tournaments that I can get myself into,” said Khan, who leads on the Order of Merit.
Out of golf course, Rashid is a great Bollywood fan; he will not miss any new release and loves to dance in his leisure time. He is also a great Aamir Khan and Katrina Kaif’s admirer. One movie that he can watch again and again is Aamir’s blockbuster 3 Idiots.
Some day he would love to play along Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.111