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January 22, 2019

Rising star Ahmad Baig to turn professional

Sports

January 22, 2019

KARACHI: After a series of conquests on the juniors and amateurs circuit, national golf star Ahmad Baig will now turn his attention to the professional arena.

Baig, who last week won the Bangladesh National Amateur Championship in Dhaka, will turn pro tomorrow after Lt Gen Mian Hilal Hussain, President Pakistan Golf Federation (PGF), agreed to use his authority and exempt him (Baig) from PGF’s qualifying school.

“Tomorrow Ahmad Baig will join the professionals’ ranks,” Gen Hilal told ‘The News’. “He (Ahmad) has been wanting to turn pro for quite some time but we wanted him to represent Pakistan as an amateur internationally. We wanted him to win titles like the Bangladesh National Championship and now that he has done it, he can now play golf as a professional,” he added.Gen Hilal revealed that he has also used his authority as PGF President to exempt legendary professional Ghulam Nabi from the qualifying school.

“Ghulam Nabi had requested me for an exemption and considering his long services to the game in Pakistan it has been decided to give him an exemption,” he said.Baig had also requested President PGF to award him a direct entry into the professionals’ circuit after he won the CNS Amateurs Championship last year in Lahore where he carded a record score of -25 in the three-day championship.

“Ahmad came up to me in Lahore and requested for a pro card. He said that there is no competition for him on the amateur circuit. He wanted to turn pro. But I asked him to represent Pakistan in the Bangladesh and Indian championship. I promised him that if he won the two events for Pakistan then he will be granted exemption to play on the professional circuit,” said Gen Hilal.

Ahmad was unable to feature in the Indian National Amateur Championship because of visa issues but did participate in the Bangladesh event and won it by nine strokes.“We wish him a lot of success as a professional,” said Gen Hilal, who will preside over a ceremony in Lahore on Tuesday (today) when the PGF will award Baig and Nabi Tour exemptions.

Baig, 22, can look forward to featuring in an expanded national professional circuit that includes various major events including the US$300,000 UMA CNS Open Championship which was launched last year at the Karachi Golf Club. Then there is the MENA Golf Tour in the Middle East and if Baig is good enough, he can also qualify for the lucrative Asian Tour.

Baig certainly seems to have the guts to shine at the professional level where aging top stars like Pakistan No. 1 Shabbir Iqbal and Muhammad Munir are slowly moving downhill.

Last year was an extremely memorable year for Baig, who won the Faldo Pakistan Series in Karachi as a junior and then annexed the Qatar Open Amateur Trophy in Doha. He also won the Faldo Series Asia Finals in Vietnam.

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