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January 12, 2018

Shabbir takes lead as Rashid Habib Golf tees off


January 12, 2018

KARACHI: It was breezy and a bit chilly on Thursday morning, at least for the Karachi golfers. But for Pakistan’s No. 1 professional it was business as usual.

Shabbir Iqbal was in his element as he fired six birdies on his way to an impressive five-under-par 67 on the opening day of Bank AL Habib’s Rashid D Habib Memorial National Professional Golf Tournament here at the Karachi Golf Club.

It might have been cold for the locals, but for Shabbir who has come from the much colder climate of Islamabad it was just a pleasant morning. And with the course playing well, the defending champion comfortably cruised to a two-shot lead in the Rs6 million tournament.

“I really like playing here at the KGC,” said Shabbir who is leading the seasoned Matloob Ahmed. The second-placed Lahore pro shot three-under 69.

“The course was playing well. There was some wind but it wasn’t too strong and the greens were holding. It was a good day for me,” Shabbir, who edged chief rival Muhammad Munir in a thrilling playoff at last year’s Rashid Habib Memorial, told ‘The News’.

Shabbir began his title campaign from the back nine (Yellow), making a birdie on the par-5 10th hole, regarded by many golfers as one of the tougher holes at KGC. He had a bingo on holes 14, 15 and 16, finishing his first nine at 32. He birdied the par-four third hole on the Blue course but missed the green falling short on a 80-yard approach shot on the sixth where he had his only bogey.

Shabbir found the fairways comfortably and hit the greens on all holes on Yellow. But he missed the green on Blue’s 6th, 7th and 9th holes.Two shots off the pace was Matloob Ahmed, who made three birdies on the front nine and as many birdies on the back nine. His only major blemish of the day took place on the 14th hole where he went out of bounds.

KGC’s duo of Amjad Yousuf and Ahmed Saeed were tied for the third place along with Quetta’s Azam Khan at 70. They were followed by the duo of Mohammad Asif and Moazzam Siddique (71).The four-day championship will conclude on Sunday.

The leader-board after the first round: 67 - Shabbir Iqbal

69 - Matloob Ahmed

70 - Azam Khan, Amjad Yousuf, Ahmed Saeed

71 - Mohammad Asif, Moazzam Siddique

72 - Aadil Jehangir, Shahid Pervez, Muhammad Afzal, Rafiq Ahmed, Muhammad Tariq, Ali Sher, M Munir.

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