KARACHI: When Shabbir Iqbal, Pakistan’s most prolific professional, failed to win titles in a series of attempts in recent times, many feared that the Pakistan No. 1 was now over the hill.
But on Sunday here at the picture perfect course of the Karachi Golf Club (KGC), Shabbir once again underlined his status as the country’s premier professional when he carded six-under-par 66 in the final round to win the prestigious UMA-CNS Open Golf Championship by six strokes.
It was expected that Shabbir would face a tough time on the final day as he had begun the last round with just a solitary shot lead. But while his chief opponents fell by the wayside, Shabbir made a flurry of birdies to regain the title with an enviable ease.
The victory should come as a big morale booster for Shabbir, who would be one of Pakistan main hopes in the Asian Tour edition of the UMA-CNS Open Golf Championship. The US$300,000 tournament to be played at the KGC from October 11-14 will mark the return of the Asian Tour for the first time in 11 years.
“It feels great to have played consistently well over four days,” said Shabbir, who finished with an aggregate of 272 (-16) after having led the leader-board on all four days of the Rs5 million championship.
Defending champion Muhammad Ashfaq carded 71 in the final round to finish as the runner-up with an aggregate of 278. Hamza Amin, faltered on the final day with 73 to finish on a joint third place with Ansar Mahmood, who bounced back with a vengeance with a final round card of 68. Both had an aggregate of 283. They were followed by Waheed Baloch and Talib Hussain at 284. Rofin Shamim, who performed brilliantly on the first three days, was unable to click when it mattered most and returned with a forgettable card of 81 to slip on the leader-board. Disaster also struck another title contender Matloob Ahmed, who also carded 81.
In the amateurs’ event, Captain Shahid Masood of Karachi Golf Club won in net category with a score of 282 while Ashiq Hussain won the gross title with an aggregate of 292.
Imdad Hussain of Lahore Garrison Golf Club won the senior professionals title while Asghar Ali and Mohammad Akram finished as runners-up in the category.
Asad Khan of PAF reigned supreme in the junior professionals’ category while Syed Bilal Hussain was runner-up.
Aania Farooq won ladies (gross) title while Tabassum Sharif won the ladies (net) category. Hamza Siddiqui, Taimur Ali Khan, Yashal Shah and Saleh Ibrahim won in the juniors categories.
Other prize winners included Col Mansoor, Jalil Akhtar, Commodore Zafar Mahmood, Brig Khadim Hussain (seniors) and Brig Abdul Haq, Siraj Banatwala, Group Captain Khan an Asghar Ali (veterans).
Vice Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Kaleem Shaukat was the chief guest at the prize distribution ceremony of the championship. Also present at the occasion were Mr. Sohail Shams, Chief Executive of United Marine Agencies, Commodore Ghazanfar Abbas, COO KGC, and Commodore Mushtaq, CO Bahadur.
Commenting on the occasion, Mr Sohail shams said, “It is a moment of pride for me to state that UMA has been a benefactor of this magnificent tournament, as lead sponsor for the last one decade. It took years of struggle and hard work to be at the position where we are