Rory Hie edges Rashid for ti­tle

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - Times Sport - [email protected]

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.

TOI

ON A HIGH: Rory Hie poses with the win­ner’s tro­phy on Sun­day

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