By Syed Khalid Mahmood
Mohammad Shabbir Iqbal, the country’s leading golfer, extended his brilliant run by clinching the professionals’ title in the Byco 12th Sindh Opening Golf Championship which concluded at Arabian Sea Country Club in Karachi on July 25.
The 33-year-old Islamabad-based Shabbir overcame the difficulties of strong windy conditions on the third and final day of the competition as he demonstrated his prowess by having played two-under-par 70 third round to end with an aggregate of 204. By retaining the Sindh Open title, he also completed a double, having annexed the Chief of Naval Staff Championship only the other week.
The settings at the Arabian Sea Country Club (ASCC), with cloud cover and all tees pulled back, were indeed presenting ideal golfing conditions but the strong winds did pose a challenge and only the skilled campaigners were able to do it with precision.
The President of the Byco Petroleum, Kaleem Siddiqui, was the chief guest in the prize distribution ceremony and he presented the glittering silver trophy to Shabbir Iqbal with a purse of Rs 173,850 while runner-up Matloob Ahmed received Rs 119,036 and third placed Mohammad Munir collected Rs 66,880.
The Chief of the ASCC, Arif Ali Khan Abbasi, one of the famed sports personalities, was also present in the presentation ceremony alongwith the livewire Vice President of the Sindh Golf Association (SGA) Asad I.A.Khan and the proactive Tournament Director, Dr Tariq Raz.
The ASCC has been playing host to the various leading golf events and the facilities over there have always been to the liking of the participants as well as the covering media.
Back to the action in the golf course, Shabbir played the rounds of 67, 67 and 72 on the final day to lead the pack of 40 golfers.
Matloob Ahmed of Lahore Gymkhana, who was enjoying a one-stroke lead over Shabbir at the start of the proceedings on the final day, slipped to the second position after playing two-over-par 74 to end with a total of 207. He had played a splendid six under-66 on the second day of the Championship.
Muhammad Munir from Islamabad secured third position with rounds of 67, 71 and 71 while Imdad Hussain of Railways produced the best round of three-under-par 69 to secure the fourth slot.
Suffian Dhaduk of Dreamworld Golf Club won the amateur gross event with score of 224 while Muhammad Rehman of Royal Palm Beach Club ended as runner-up.
Umair Saleem of Karachi Golf Club won the net event with total of 209 while Wajid Ali was the runner-up with 215. The U-18 event was claimed by Daniyal Asim of DHA Golf Club who carded 88 gross while Hamza Ghani, also from the same club, was runner-up with total of 80.
Meanwhile Shabbir Iqbal, in a media interview, stated that with proper support and sponsorship he had the ability to excel at the Asian Professional Golf Tour.
“I have already done well on the Asian PGA tour and finished fourth in Pakistan Open (part of the Asian Tour) in 2007 in Karachi. But without international exposure you cannot raise the standard of your game. If a Pakistani can finish among the top four in the presence of top golfers from across the world it means they are good enough for the Asian Tour,” Pakistan’s top golfer reckoned.