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September 1, 2019

Matloob breaks course record to grab CNS Open lead


September 1, 2019

KARACHI: For the best part of his career, Lahore’s Matloob Ahmed has remained in the towering shadow of Shabbir Iqbal – the Jahangir Khan of Pakistan golf. But occasionally, the vastly-talented Matloob comes out of it.

Saturday was one such day here at the Karachi Golf Club when Matloob produced his career-best performance to break the course record and take a one-shot lead in the 24th UMA-CNS Open Golf Championship.

Matloob, who was trailing the trio of Hamza Amin, Talib Hussain and Shabbir Iqbal after the first two rounds of the Rs8.1 million championship, broke the course record of the historic KGC with a sensational round of 10-under par 62.

His aggregate of 205 (-11) gave Matloob a slim one-shot lead but the way he is playing that advantage might well prove to be enough for him to win his third CNS Open crown. Previously, the KGC record (63) was held by the duo of professional Waheed Baloch and former national amateur champion Ali Hai. Both are from KGC.

“It was just my day,” the 41-year-old told ‘The News’ after making eight birdies and an eagle in his bogey-free third round. “I was hitting well with my driver and my approach shots were almost always falling in the right place on the green,” added Matloob, who eagled the par-5 second hole on the front nine (Red course). He was two on and then comfortably sank a putt from ten feet. That eagle was just the start. He birdied the par-3 third and then had three more birdies on holes 5,7 and 8 to finish the front nine at 31.

The floodgates opened for him on the back nine at the par-5 2nd on Blue. He had five consecutive birdies starting from the second hole.

“This is one of the most important events on the national calendar and I came well-prepared,” said Matloob, who won the CNS Open in 2001 and 2016. Matloob is hoping to once again produce his A game in order to win the coveted title.

He is expecting the toughest resistance from Hamza Amin, who was the outright leader on Friday after carding 67 in the second round. Hamza, son of former national champion Taimur Hassan (206), is tied for the second spot with Talib Hussain after scoring 69 in the third round.

“Hamza is playing sensational golf and I believe that he will be a tough man to beat tomorrow,” said Matloob.

Matloob’s 62 overshadowed several other impressive performances including that of Islamabad’s Muhammad Tariq who carded eight-under 64 to take the third spot with 207.

Islamabad’s Talib Hussain remained in contention with a round of 67 that keeps him just one shot away from the leader.

At 209 is Pakistan No. 1 Shabbir Iqbal, who carded 69 in the third round. He is followed by the trio of Muhammad Munir, Waheed Baloch and Muhammad Nazir at 211.

The KGC greens left soft after a series of rainy spells have really prompted the pros to bring impressive scores. Many of the amateurs aren’t faring badly either.

In the amateurs category, Peshawar’s Taimur carded a stunning round of three-under 69 to take a six-shot lead with a three-day aggregate of 214 (-2). At the second place on the leader-board is Karachi’s Zohaib Asif (220). He is followed by Ashiq Hussain (223), Raja Israr (228), Sajid Khan, Saim Shazli and Salman Khan (230).

In the senior amateurs’ category, Rustam Ali Chatha took the lead after carding 75 in the opening round. Placed second on the leader-board was Azhar Abbas who returned with an impressive card of 76.

Karachi’s Aania Farooq won the ladies title with an aggregate of 155 in the 36-hole championship. Dania Syed was the runner-up with 166. Nadir Khan won the juniors title with a gross score of 78. The four-day championship will conclude on Sunday (today).

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