Rashid Khan set to defend Faldo Series title

January 20th, 2009 - 4:36 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Jan 20 (IANS) India’s golfer Rashid Khan, who has enjoyed a whirlwind year since winning the Faldo Series Asia Grand Final, that earned him a trip to Brazil with Nick Faldo as well as an appearance on the Asian Tour, is all set to defend his title at Mission Hills Golf Club in China from March 25-27.The 17-year-old Khan 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 Faldo himself.

Khan remembers fondly the six-time Major winner’s reaction when he eagled the par-four 15th and followed it with a birdie: “The eagle was a big turning point for me. Not only did it give me a four-shot lead, it also helped me relax. When I birdied the next hole, Nick told my coach I was a machine.”

For a player who works as a caddie at his local golf club in Delhi, Khan’s win at Mission Hills was a highly significant moment in his young career to date. “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 very next tournament in Mumbai.”

His victory opened a number of doors, including an invitation from Faldo to play in the international Faldo Series Grand Final in Brazil. “It was a great tournament and I was excited to meet Nick Faldo again.” However he confesses: “I didn’t play well… hopefully I can qualify again and do better next time.”

As Faldo Series Asia champion, Khan was also invited to play in the 2008 Volvo Masters of Asia, the season-ending Tour Championship on the Asian Tour, an opportunity he hopes to repeat. “That was an incredible learning experience for me… seeing Asia’s top golfers up close and how they play under tournament conditions. I can’t wait to play more Tour events in the future.”

Khan is hoping to repeat his performance in Faldo series title this year. “I’m really looking forward to defend my title and spend more time with Mr Faldo. My goal is to win again. I’ll try my best and see what happens.”

Supported by UBS, Mission Hills and The R&A since its launch in 2006, over 60 of Asia’s brightest prospects will compete in the third Faldo Series Asia Grand Final over 54 holes on the Faldo Course at Mission Hills.

The field of boys and girls aged 12 to 21 will include qualifiers from 11 Faldo Series Asia championships in nine different countries across the region during 2008-2009, namely three in mainland China plus one in each of Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam.

Faldo, who will once again host the R&A World Amateur Golf Ranking event, has also invited five winners from the 2008 international Faldo Series Grand Final in Brazil. These include Khan’s compatriot, Rahul Bakshi, who claimed the boys’ under-18 title at the Costa do Sauipe Resort, plus Faldo Series champion Steven Brown of England and players from England, Spain and Brazil.

Endorsed by the Asian Tour, the Asia Pacific Golf Confederation and the Guangdong Golf Association, five leading players from the Faldo Series Asia Grand Final will be invited by Faldo to play in the 2009 edition in Brazil. The boy and girl champion will once again be invited to play in a flagship professional event on the Asian Tour and Ladies European Tour, respectively.

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