By Sohail Ali
LAHORE, Sep 26 (APP): The 39th Punjab Open Golf Championship moved into the final phase at the alluring PAF Skyview Golf Course here on Saturday and competition wise defending champion Matloob Ahmed of Garrison Golf Club continued to excel and with just one round to go emerged as the sole leader.
At the start of the second 18 holes on Saturday, he was bunched together with M.Munir and Talib at the top but after the conclusion of the second round, Matloob stands out as the superb one. His aggregate score for the two rounds is 138, six under par and though this achievement looks commendable, his marginal advantage over his nearest two rivals is barely one stroke.
While Matloob is placed at a score of gross 138, the two challengers Mohammad Munir (Rawalpindi) and Suleman Akhter (Gymkhana) are placed at a score of gross 139, five under par. This makes the competition intense and on the final day on Sunday, these three leading contenders for the Punjab Open Title 2020 will have to be at their playing best.
In the course of the second round on Saturday, Matloob Ahmed was relentless in his march to success and excelled in all aspects of the game and by virtue of this consistent effort ends up as the dominant one. His score for the second round was gross 70 and aggregate for two rounds adds upto 136, six under par. As for M.Munir, he is a powerful hitter of the ball and loaded with golfing expertise and talent and battle hardened. His second round effort was steady and enables him to appear as a strong contender in the final round.
Certainly the golfing battle between him and Matloob will be worth wartching. Another pleasant performance of the day came from young Suleman Akhter of Gymkhana . Suleman displayed champion like capabilities by shooting approach shots to perfection and putting in a nerve free mode. His round for the day was simply brilliant and he had a round of 64, an amazing eight under par and made up for his slackness in the first round when he scored a modest 75. Overall he has an aggregate score of 139, five under par and places him amongst giants of the game like Matloob and Munir.
The final round will be a great test for him and if he can hold his nerve, it opens up rewarding opportunities for him. Another competitor who oozed with excellence was Talat Ijaz of Lahore Gymkhana. His two under par round of 70 on Saturday places him in the fourth position on the leader board and his aggregate score after two rounds is 141, three under par. Out of the other established combatants, M.Shahzad of garrison is placed at
score of 142, followed by Ahmed Baig at 143 and another promising youngster
Zohaib Asif of DHA Karachi at 143. Interestingly, the star of golf circuit of Pakistan,
Shabbir Iqbal is placed at a similar score.
The cut was made at the end of the second round and only 41 professionals will play on the final day on Sunday while 45 stand weeded out. In the race for honors amongst amateurs, the outstanding one is Salman Jehangir of Gymkhana. He has displayed good form and with two rounds scores of 70 and 75 and an aggregate of 145 he occupies first position in amateur section. His nearest challenger is Qasim Ali Khan also of Gymkhana and lags behind Salman by a margin of four strokes. His aggregate score is 149. Col Rustam Chatta is at a score of 154.The final session will be contested on Sunday and one expects a fierce battle between the top seven professionals.
After the conclusion of the championship the prize distribution will be held here tomorrow,
Sunday at 500pm at PAF Skyview Golf and Country Club. The Chief Guest is Lt Gen (r)
Amir Riaz, President Punjab Golf Association.