King Khan rules with a 61

Wed 26 Feb 2014

King Khan rules with a 61

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New Delhi, February 26: India’s Rashid Khan fired a spectacular 11-under-par 61 to snatch the early first round lead in the season-opening SAIL-SBI Open presented by Incredible India at the Delhi Golf Club on Wednesday.
The 23-year-old, runner-up here last year after losing to countryman Anirban Lahiri in a play-off, nailed nine birdies and one eagle for his career lowest round, which was one shot shy of the course record and the Asian Tour’s lowest 18 hole mark.
Sri Lanka’s Mithun Perera and Qualifying School winner Akinori Tani of Japan shot matching 66s to trail the runaway leader by five shots while Australia’s Scott Barr came in with a 67 in the US$300,000 event sponsored by the Steel Authority of India Limited and State Bank of India.
“This is my best round. It was really important for me. I’ve been trying to shoot double digits and I’ve been close in the past. I’ve managed it now, I’m really happy. It’s my lowest career round,” said a delighted Khan, who won the domestic PGTI Order of Merit last season.
He turned in 32 and then romped home in 29, thanks to five more birdies and an eagle on the 14th hole after drilling a rescue approach to 12 feet of the flag. He thought about the magical 59 after moving to 10 under through 16 holes but all hopes ended when he only parred the 17th hole.
“I already decided on 16 that if I made birdie there, I would try to go for a 59. But on 17, I took the wrong club, and hit it past the flag and had a really good putt and just missed it,” said Khan.
With a full Asian Tour card in his hand for the new season after finishing 40th on the Order of Merit, Khan hopes to make up for last year’s play-off defeat at a course which he calls “my second home.”
“I was born here, I started playing golf here and it’s always a special place for me. My uncle was the club pro and I had the privileges to practice here because of him,” said Khan.
Mithun Perera of Sri Lanka Mithun Perera of Sri Lanka
“I played five Asian Tour tournaments last year and managed to make my card. Starting this year, I was pretty confident I would do well but I never expected to start with a 61. My target is to win a tournament here. Let’s see if it comes this week or later. I’ll be really focused,” said Khan.
Perera has won three times in as many weeks prior to the SAIL-SBI Open but knows a win on the Asian Tour would be the icing on the cake. Starting from the 10th hole which he birdied, the Sri Lankan ended his round in style, shooting two birdies and an eagle in the last three holes.
Six under in my first event of the 2014 season, I’m happy. Some of the tees were in the front which made things a bit easier but still you need to hit a lot of fairways and keep to regulation play. I need to keep it going for the next three days,” said Perera.
“The last three weeks have been so good for me. I had the confidence to bring into this week’s tournament. Rashid is a good player and he’s started with such a deep round. Hopefully I can give him a fight,” he added.