WALTON-ON-THE-HILL, England – It didn’t take Simon Khan long to put behind him the disappointment of losing a playoff for the European Tour’s flagship event. Just 24 hours, to be precise.
A spot in next month’s U.S. Open made up for missing out on his second BMW PGA Championship victory. Khan rallied to shoot rounds of 67-70 in U.S. Open International Sectional Qualifying at Walton Heath Golf Club, good enough for a place at Merion.
The Englishman went four extra holes with Matteo Manassero the day before the qualifier to try to win the $6.1 million BMW PGA Championship. He lost. Manassero took the $1 million check and the spot in the U.S. Open that went along with it.
Khan tied for runner-up honors with Scotland’s Marc Warren, and left with more than $500,000 in his back pocket. The Englishman also left determined to get into the U.S. Open for a third time.
“I’m delighted,” Khan said. “This afternoon was really tough. The wind was stronger. There were a lot of tricky crosswinds and some pretty tricky tee shots but I dealt with that pretty well.”
Khan claims he only got a half hour of sleep before taking on the challenge of Walton Heath’s Old and New Courses. That’s not exactly the best preparation when you’ve got 36 holes to play. But then his approach shot into Wentworth’s 18th hole on the fourth playoff hole, which went in the water, kept preying on his mind.
“Last night I was thinking should I have hit driver (off the tee at 18) but I was struggling with that cut tee shot. So I stuck with my 3-wood and it didn’t work out.
“I thought about pulling out but this is my job. This is what I do. There are worse things to be doing on a Monday afternoon, especially on these two courses. They are fantastic and I’ve always loved playing them. Everybody should try to get into the U.S. Open, especially after what Gregory Havret did a few years ago and what (champion) Michael Campbell did in 2005.”
After his exploits the day before, it was no surprise his attention started to stray halfway through his second round.
“I had a little wobble around the turn, had couple of bogeys, but managed three birdies in a row at 12, 13 and 14 to settle down. I dropped one at the end but I was starting to flag then.”
The ultimate irony is that Khan did not get an automatic spot into the U.S. Open when he won the 2010 BMW PGA Championship, whereas this year there was an exemption. Three years ago he came to Walton Heath and only earned the first alternate spot. He got his place at Pebble Beach when Justin Rose won the Memorial.
This time around he doesn’t have alternate worries. He’s looking forward to his third attempt at America’s national championship.
“I don’t know a lot about the course,” he said. “All I know is Hogan’s famous picture at the last, which is iconic. It looks fantastic. From the few pictures I’ve seen it looks a good test of golf, quite tricky and shorter and hopefully that will suit me.
“It’s a huge tournament. I love the atmosphere. The fans are into it, the crowds are huge and I love it when it’s like that.
“Overall I’m delighted. I think I’ll sleep tonight.”