Khan goes from Hong Kong tears to PGA Championship cheers

By Tony Jimenez

VIRGINIA WATER, England (Reuters) - Little-known Briton Simon Khan has gone from agony to ecstasy during an emotional six months of wildly fluctuating fortunes on the European Tour.

The 37-year-old broke down in tears after losing his tour card at the Hong Kong Open in November but now occupies a proud place among greats like Nick Faldo, Seve Ballesteros and Tony Jacklin after he became a PGA Championship winner on Sunday.

"To lose you're tour card and to realize at that moment that it's gone, that was the worst I've ever felt," Khan told reporters after beating fellow Englishman Luke Donald and Swede Fredrik Andersson Hed by one stroke at Wentworth.

"I had a good run in the final round at Hong Kong, I was going really well and I suppose that when it didn't happen in the end ... the realization of it all just hit me," he said, referring to the tears that started to flow.

Khan started the long road back by winning the six-round Qualifying School event in Spain at the end of 2009 but still needed a sponsor's invite to compete in the PGA Championship.

"The Match Play was always a special event here," he said. "Those are my first memories of going to a golf tournament.

"This whole place is a world away, the golf course is amazing and to win here is fantastic."


Khan's second tour victory not only catapulted him from 471st to 106th in the world rankings, it also lifted him to seventh in the European money list and earned a five-year tour exemption and a three-year British Open exemption.

He said the realization he was in contention to win the tour's flagship event suddenly dawned on him midway through the final round.

"I wasn't sure I was going to win but I managed to sort of relax myself and remind myself that as a kid, I would have given my right arm to be in this position," said Khan after picking up a first prize of 750,000 euros ($937,800).

"I enjoyed the back nine and coming in I felt in control of my game. It felt great."

Khan partnered Colin Montgomerie in Saturday's third round at Wentworth but admitted it would be something of a miracle if he managed to play his way into the Ryder Cup captain's team for the biennial match against the U.S. in Wales in October.

"You can't not think about it," said the journeyman professional who is just outside the top-nine automatic qualifiers. "I think you can definitely draw yourself toward stuff by the way you think.

"I'm going to deal with what's immediately in front of me ... but the Ryder Cup would be a bit of a miracle."

(Editing by Patrick Johnston)