May 19, 2020: Last year India’s Rashid Khan staged one of the best comebacks of anyone on the Asian Tour although the only thing missing to validate that was the big ‘W’.
After five straight seasons of finishing inside the top-60 on the Asian Tour Order of Merit, two-time winner Khan hit a lean patch in 2018. While he had made the cut in 11 out of 19 events played, no top-10s during the season meant he made just over US$44,000 and lost his card by finishing 81st in the rankings.
Playing the 2019 season on a country exemption offered Khan no starts in the big co-sanctioned events early in the season he had gotten used to playing in, but he took advantage of a spot in his national Open by finishing tied-10th in the Hero Indian Open in late March.
He quickly followed this good result up in Bangladesh the following week, having a chance to win the Bangabandhu Cup Golf Open on the back-nine in the final round. He would eventually finish in third place two strokes behind the winner.
During his full 2019 Asian Tour season, Khan played 11 events and finished in the top-10 six times, highlighted by a tied-second in the Classic Golf and Country Club International Championship on home soil, and easily kept his card banking over US$140,000 in the process.
He has also started his 2020 campaign in great fashion, posting a sixth and tied-eighth at the Hong Kong Open and SMBC Singapore Open respectively, and currently sits in 10th place on the Order of Merit.
So, which aspects of Khan’s game has brought him back to be in contention to win tournaments again after losing his card two seasons ago?
Improving his Driving Accuracy from just over 55% in 2018 to 69% last year meant Khan was able to hit his approach shots from the fairway twice more per round. Combined with an increase in distance of 7.55 yards, this would have set him up nicely to make big improvements in other categories as well.
Possibly as a result of hitting two more fairways per round and a bit longer off the tee, Khan also made big improvements to his GIR percentage going from hitting 10.47 greens per round to 12.69 in 2019. An increase in just over two greens per round will certainly help anyone’s game, by giving you more opportunities to putt for birdies.
Birdies per Round
Khan made almost one birdie more per round in 2019 compared to the year before and finished tied-sixth in average birdies-per-round on the Asian Tour last season. It should also be noted that he was third in bogey-avoidance with 2.03 per round, a combination that will be very good for your scoring average.
Making lots of birdies while keeping bogeys to a minimum put Khan in second place in the Scoring Average category, only Order of Merit winner Jazz Janewattananond was better during the 2019 Asian Tour season.
Even though it is very early in the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic with limited rounds played so far, Khan seems on track to continue his comeback when the season resumes again.