LAHORE:Pakistan’s top ranked professional golfer, Mohammad Shabbir (Islamabad) and national number two, Mohammad Matloob (Lahore Garrison) stole the limelight at the end of the first round of the 38th Punjab Open Golf Championship at PAF Skyview Golf Course, here on Friday.
Shabbir was simply luminous, radiant and sparkling in application of his golfing skills and each shot that he hit carried the champions touch: be it powerful tee shots off the tees or approach shots from the fairways, enjoyable was his deftness and control which fetched him an eighteen holes score of 65, seven under par.
Shabbir scored birdies on holes 1, 8, 10, 11, 14, 15, 16 and 17, eight in all and four coming in sequence on holes 14, 15, 16 and 17 and making him look super human. He had regulation pars on nine holes and to prove that he is a human, he confronted one blemish too and that happened on hole number 4, where he lost a stroke.
As for Matloob, another capable one of our golfing ranks, he was equally glorious and beaming all through the first 18 holes, with every shot as perfect as can be. And this commanding effort fetched him a score of gross 66, six under par and placed him one stroke behind Shabbir. Eight birdies were managed by Matloob on holes 1, 4, 8, 9, 11, 14, 17 and 18 and supplemented by eight regulation pars. He did suffer just a little more than Shabbir as he dropped two shots on holes 12 and 15 and resultantly end up at ladder two on the leader board. This incredible performance gives Matloob a standing as a top contender for the Punjab Open Title 2019 and enjoys the spotlight along with Shabbir.
Some more participating professionals who showed ample golfing skills and spark are Asher Masih of the PAF Skyview Golf Club and Jafal Hussain of Lahore Gymkhana. These golfers are relatively unknown,but their performance on the opening day gives them a breakthrough,that is likely to serve as a boost to their professional golf career. In the first 18 holes of this three days championship,Asher Masih finished with a round of 67, five under par, and virtually equal in quality was Jafal Hussain, who had a score of 68, four under par. Asher had six birdies on holes 3, 6, 8, 10, 17 and 18, backed by eleven pars and one stroke loss on the second hole.
M Asher, is new to the professional ranks and should be uplifted by his performance in the first round at his home course.
A few new names who made their skills and presence felt were Hasseb ur Rehman (Islamabad), Mohammad Zafar (Islamabad) and Syed Raza Ali (Mangla). They are bunched together at a score of gross 69, three under par, a wonderful effort indeed.
Interestingly nine competitors are placed at a score of 70, two under par. The names include Mudassir Iqbal, Muhammed Amir, Akhter Ali (all from Karachi Golf Club), Misal Khan (DHA, Karachi), Mohammad Afzal (SRC), Khushal Khan (Peshawar), M Munir and Mubariz Ahmed (both from Rawalpindi) and Shahid Hanif (Gymkhana). As regards their performance, they were splendid off the tees and though they are not front runners, they played well and impressively.
A hearty development visible amongst our professional golfers is that out of 101 competing, 23 competitors had under par rounds and six had par rounds.
The second round will commence on Saturday at 7am and as the Project Director of PAF Skyview Golf Club, Air Commodore (retd) Tariq said, “Players like Asher and Jafal have a lot to fight for; this is a grand opportunity and they have to pursue their dream of winning without getting perturbed by the temperamental strengths of the leading champions of our national golf circuit.”
Prize money of the championship is Rs 2.7 million, partly sponsored by JS Bank and another attraction is a car for hole in one.