Rory Hie edges Rashid for title
Mewat (Haryana): Rory Hie’s secret may be the tandoori chicken and garlic naan he has been having every night, or maybe his caddie Lakhan with whom he was reacquainted with after ten years. But truly, it was all about reawakening the confidence within. Conversations with his mental coach Lawrie inspired the champion who had difficulty treading the professional path after a stellar amateur career.
“Ten years on the tour is a long time,” said the 31-year-old who became the first Indonesian to win on the Asian Tour.
“I thought I was way past my expiry date. I was never playing the way I should all these years. Lawrie told me ‘stop doing golf swings and start playing golf ’ and that worked.”
The smile was back, and he ‘felt like a kid’ again as he managed to finish a wireto-wire victory at the $300,000 Classic Golf & Country Club International Championship without thinking about the results.
It was tougher on the final day, though. “It was hard not to think about the win after leading for three days but I knew it was going to be a dogfight with Rashid.”
Rory started with a birdie bang to consolidate his lead to two strokes but Rashid caught him on the par-3 fifth. Then it was Korean Byungjun Kim’s turn to seize the lead after five birdies in the first 12 holes. However, it turned to be lucky ’13’ for Hie as he fired a hat-trick of birdies till the 15th to take a two-stroke lead.
It all unravelled for Rashid on the 15th. Gaining a stroke on the previous hole, he found himself going backwards with a bogey, the decision to use the wrong club off the tee proving costly.
In hindsight, Rashid felt he adopted the wrong strategy. “I feel like I went against my natural game. My game is to attack the flags and here I was playing safe. I still feel I’m 50 per cent confident with my shots and the old cricket injury still affects me,” said the 28-year-old who is playing the Tour on a country spot. “I missed a lot of greens, especially on the back nine.”
Coming on to the 16th tee, Rory could indulge in a sense of satisfaction. This could be his time, he thought.
He was right. His four-under 68 for an aggregate of 21-under was enough to seal a two-stroke triumph over Rashid and Kim.
When he two-putted for the inaugural trophy, his emotions were unshackled. A warm hug and a fist pump with the caddie said it all.
Dedicating his maiden victory to Malaysian golfer Arie Irawan, who died in his sleep at the age of 28, Rory said, “My close friend was definitely watching over me.”
For Rashid, who finished with a 3-under 69, it was about ‘what could have been’. But more entries in future events follow, the $900,000 Mercuries Taiwan Masters for starters. “I think I will manage to win a card. I will be back on the Asian Tour,” he promised.
His recent tussle with the Delhi Golf Club has not left him broken, but a free soul. “I think that’s the way I like it,” said the two-time winner. “I don’t want to deal with people who are disrespectful to me. Now I wake up and go wherever I want, whether it’s the Noida Golf Course or Lado Sarai. And my results have improved since I left DGC.”
Aadil finishes fourth; Aman, Abhijit tied-5th
While Rashid shared second place with Kim, teenager Aadil Bedi brought home a card of 66 with birdies on the last five holes to finish fourth. Aman Raj (66) and Abhijit Chadha (71), who was in the leadergroup, finished tied-fifth.
FINAL ROUND SCORES:
267 - (21-under): Rory Hie (Ina) 64-68-67-68; 269 - Byungjun Kim (Kor) 69-66-67-67, Rashid Khan (Ind) 68-66-6669; 270 - Aadil Bedi (Ind) 67-68-69-66; 272 - Aman Raj (Ind) 67-67-72-66, Kwanchai Tannin (Tha) 6672-68-66, Suttijet Kooratanapisan (Tha) 70-7263-67, Abhijit Chadha (Ind) 68-65-68-71.
ON A HIGH: Rory Hie poses with the winner’s trophy on Sunday