RAWALPINDI: Promising golfers Ahmed Baig and Arif Ali finished the opening day of the Pakistan Open Golf Championship here at the Rawalpindi Golf Course as leading scorers.

The championship started on Thursday for 18 holes competitive round ended when young Ahmed Baig of PAF Skyview Golf Club and Arif Ali of PTV were leading.

They showed their game strengths and finished as the leaders with a first round score of gross 70 two under par. These two gifted ones of the national golf scene managed to edge past many established top ranked players and that included mighty ones like Shabbir Iqbal, Matloob Ahmed and Mohamamd Munir.

Performance-wise, Ahmed Baig’s game has been a mixture of excellence and error oriented. His eagle on the 16th hole was the result of superb shot making and so were his birdies on holes 2,6,8,12,13 and 18 but then he had to encounter a dreaded double bogie on the 14th hole and bogies on holes 1,5,10 and 11 which make his score look just a little less sparkling.

However, fortune seems to be favouring him as his other adversaries of significance also did not play like the true champions that they are. As for Arif Ali, he reflected steadiness and total accuracy in hitting and hopes to continue his pursuit of top positions.

Shabbir Iqbal of Islamabad, the top ranked player of the country, is placed just one stroke behind the two leaders and seeks to settle scores with his upfront rivals in the rounds to come. In the first round noticeable was errant play by Shabbir.

Two errors stood out, one on hole number three and another one on the fourteenth hole.These errors resulted in double bogies and virtually shocked the champion. However his competence enabled him to retrieve the situation as he scored two eagles ,one on hole two and another one on the 5th hole and saved the situation from getting too messy. At the end of the first day ,he lags behind the leaders by merely one stroke and upsets are likely to occur in Fridays second round.

Lagging behind Ahmed Baig, Arif Ali and Shabbir Iqbal are Matloob Ahmed (Garrison Lahore), Muhammed Rehman (Royal Palm), Sajjad Khan (Islamabad), Asad Khan(PAF) and Muhammed Shahzad (Garrison Lahore).

These six aspirants are bunched together at a score of par 72.They may not be in the forefront but have shown adequate flair during the first round. A word of praise for upcoming ones like Asad Khan and M.Shahzad who have been successful in reflecting control and mastery.

Three competitors falling in line for honours are Taimoor Khan (Peshawar), Zulfiqar Ali (DHA) and Muhammed Alam (PAF Skyview). They ended the first round at a score of gross 73.

Published in Dawn, November 20th, 2020

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