King Khan wins BMW PGA Championship

5/23/2010 6:19:24 PM
2010 BMW PGA Champion Simon Khan  (Getty Images)
2010 BMW PGA Champion Simon Khan (Getty Images)

England's Simon Khan, the World Number 471 and not even in the event until Monday, was in dreamland at Wentworth Club when he came from seven behind to win the BMW PGA Championship.

The 37 year old from Essex, who faced an uncertain future when he had to go back to The European Tour Qualifying School last November, produced the biggest final-day comeback in the history of The European Tour's flagship event.

A 20 foot birdie putt on the last, which curled round the back of the cup before toppling in, gave Khan the first prize of €750,000 by a stroke from Ryder Cup star Luke Donald and Swede Fredrik Andersson Hed.

The money is likely to come in useful – the biggest win of Khan’s career coincided with his wife’s birthday and he had only got her a card before his epic round.

“I don't know what she wants,” he admitted. “But I said we're going to go stay up in London for a night and go to Harvey Nichols or something like that and just let her loose.”

His stunning five under par 66, the round of his life, also brings him a five-year European Tour exemption and a place in July's Open Championship at St Andrews.

"This is what I've always dreamed of doing," said Khan, whose career had fallen away since he won the 2004 Celtic Manor Wales Open and then two years later was a distant runner-up in this tournament behind David Howell.

"It's as much for the family as it is for me - it's unbelievable to be standing here right now.

"This means everything. This tournament is the reason I started playing golf and just being here is special this year.

“I love The Tour so much. Your dream is even to start to be out here, and then to win, and then you sort of - after I won in Wales, it sort of got a little bit hazy. 

“I think The European Tour is still fantastic. I know it's a difficult time, but to lose your card, and to realise that moment, it's gone; that was the worst I've ever felt. This has got to be the best, without a doubt, the best to win this tournament.”

With a six under par total of 278 on the far tougher West Course, he becomes the first player to win the trophy after needing a sponsor's invitation.

As a youngster Khan remembers travelling to Wentworth from his home - it involved bus, tube and train - to watch stars like Seve Ballesteros and Nick Faldo compete at the Surrey venue.

He turned professional in 1991, but like Ian Poulter worked as an assistant at a club first before finally getting a European Tour card at the eighth attempt ten years later.

Last season he had only one top-ten finish, yet when he went to The Qualifying School he won it. Even that, though, gave no hint of what was to come six months later.

Andersson Hed, also joint 13th after 54 holes and winner of his first European Tour title at the BMW Italian Open two weeks ago, sank a 12 foot putt on the last to set the target of five under with a 67.

Khan clipped a stroke off that aggregate with his dramatic putt 20 minutes later, but out on the course Donald was also six under.

That was still how he stood with two to play, but the shot that cost the World Number 18 was his drive into the trees on the right down the long 17th.

He could only chop it out, was not on the green for four and then chipped long and two-putted for a double-bogey seven.

Suddenly he needed to eagle the 539 yard last to tie, and he simply did not have the length to go for the carry over the new water hazard in two.

Donald was left having to hole his pitch - and almost did, the ball being six inches from the cup when the spin took over and took it away rather than forward.

"I'll be disappointed for a few days, but I'll get my cap on again in a few days and I'll be in Madrid trying to win there," said Donald.

"Obviously my mind is on 17 a little bit at the moment and disappointed with the tee shot there. I just didn't execute when I needed to, and that was disappointing. But there were a lot of positives out of this week and I hit a lot of good shots, and hopefully I can build on some of those good ones and forget that bad one."

Andersson Hed added: "I played fantastic and actually I thought I had a chance already after five holes.

"I got to five under quite quickly and when I got up on 11, I saw that Chris Wood dropped a couple of shots in the beginning, and I birdied the 11th. All of a sudden, I was tied for the lead.

"At that point I really, really thought I had a chance."

Chris Wood was two ahead of Robert Karlsson setting out, but the pair of them slumped to 77s and came joint sixth and joint 13th respectively.

Karlsson, who flew back from Monte Carlo for the weekend after originally thinking he had missed the cut, had scored a course-record 62 on his return.

Khan shared the best round of the day with Lee Westwood, who thanks to Karlsson's closing double-bogey seven finished joint tenth and just hangs onto to his World Number Three position.