LAHORE: The three-day and 54-hole J A Zaman Memorial Open Golf Championship commenced at the par-72, Lahore Gymkhana Club Golf Course here on Friday, in a way that can only be described as dazzling. The highly rated one, Mohammad Shabbir of Islamabad Golf Club and top ranked player of the country, was the leader at the end of the first round, heading the field after lighting up the golf course with accurate shot making and exquisite work on the greens. For Shabbir, the excellence oriented round of four under par 68 was usual stuff and in keeping with his ability and reputation as a consistent frontrunner. “I had a very satisfactory start to the championship,” said Shabbir after first day’s play, and hoped that the sponsors, Leisure Club and the family of Mr J A Zaman would like the performance of the first day.
During the first round, Shabbir birdied five holes (5th, 7th, 11th, 15th and 16th) and managed regulation pars on 12 holes and boogied just one (12th hole) that gave him a brilliant score of gross 68. Some more strong contenders who surfaced as the perfect ones were Talat Ijaz (Gymkhana), Imdad Hussain (Lahore Garrison) and Safdar Khan (Gujranwala). They may not be totally on top, but even at the number two spot, they played well enough to look like champions and are bracketed at a very decent score of gross 69, three under par, just one stroke behind the leader.
Talat was outstanding on the front nine with five birdies in a row on holes 5 to 9 and his score of 30 looking incredibly brilliant. On the back nine, however, a lapse of concentration yielded three unwanted bogies on holes 11, 15 and 16 and that partially made his first round score look just a little less sparkling. Although he still appears strong enough to make a fight of this battle on the second and third days. As for Imdad, he too had a great first day with five birdies on holes 3, 8, 11, 12 and 16, eleven regulation pars and two bogies on the back nine on holes 13 and 17. The third one at the second slot was Safdar. With the help of four birdies on holes 6, 7, 11 and 15, thirteen regulation pars and only one bogie (hole 17), Safdar posed a strong challenge to the contenders. He plans to play what he called “regulation golf” over the remaining two rounds.
Some more challenging champions who managed their first round well are Aashir Masih (Gymkhana), Muhammad Nazir (Islamabad), Muhammad Munir (Ufone) and Waheed Baloch (Karachi) with a score of gross 70, two under par and two strokes away from the leader, Shabbir. Not too wonderful but with reasonable performances were Aadil Jehangir, Muhammad Afzal, Shafiq Masih, Ijaz Khan, Muhammad Jehangir, Matloob Ahmed, Amjad Yousaf and Daanyaal Jehangir.
The great news is that sixteen professionals played under par that reflects on the quality of our top professionals. Amateur players were still in the process of completing their rounds at the time of filing this report. Women will start their rounds on Saturday (today).
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