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November 28, 2016

Munir pips Shabbir in tense playoff to retain Pakistan Open title


November 28, 2016

KARACHI: In a pulsating playoff, Muhammad Munir edged his chief rival Shabbir Iqbal to retain the Pakistan Open golf crown here at the Airmen Golf Club on Sunday.

The playoff that spanned over three holes was a treat to watch as Pakistan’s top duo gave their best in a bid to win the most coveted title in national golf.

In the end, it was Munir, who managed to give his best when it mattered the most to win the Harley Willington 44th Pakistan Open Golf Championship.

Muhammad Nazir, Munir’s younger brother, failed to capitalise on his one-shot lead as he stumbled in the final round to finish third in the Rs5.5 million championship.

While Nazir dropped out of contention because of a series of bogeys, Munir and Shabbir were tied going into the par-5 18th holes. Both of them were lying at puttable distances on the green but neither managed to sink the ball for what would have been a winning birdie.

A playoff was inevitable and the duo returned to the 18th tee. Both Munir and Shabbir birdied the hole and had to return to play the 18th again. This time both made pars and moved to the par-4 first hole.

The accurate Munir drove to the centre of the fairway as Shabbir landed in the rough on the right. From there the former Pakistan Open champion played an excellent shot that landed perfectly, spun back and went off the green to the dismay of the title contender. Munir, in contrast, had an easy approach shot and managed to hit it a few feet from the flag to make a birdie and retain the crown.

Munir was visibly pleased with his title-winning performance. ”I came to win and I have won,” he said with a big smile after collecting the glittering trophy and the winner’s cheque of Rs 581,000. Shabbir walked away with a prize purse of Rs 390,000.

Finishing at third place, Nazir received a cheque of Rs 242,000 while Matloob Ahmed finished fourth to win Rs200,000. Karachi’s Waheed Baloch (Bank Al-Habib) was fifth. He won Rs 166,000.

In the amateurs’ category, Taimur Khan also successfully defended his title as his main rival Zohaib Asif flopped miserably in the final round. While Taimur also fumbled on his way to 78, Zohaib’s game fell apart and he returned with a forgettable 80 to finish as the runner-up. Waseem Rana finished third.

In the invitational event played over nine holes, Asad I A Khan, President Sindh Golf Association (SGA), reigned supreme after carding an impressive score of two-over par 38.

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