KARACHI: Pakistan No. 1 Shabbir Iqbal peaked at just about the right time to card a superb round of five-under-par 67 and take a one-shot lead at the penultimate stage of the inaugural Sindh Governor’s Cup Golf Championship here on Saturday.
Trailing behind little-known Rawalpindi professional Minhaj Maqsood in the first two rounds, Shabbir took calculated risks as he made seven birdies on his way to what was the day’s best round at the Defence Authority Country and Golf Club.
Shabbir began with pars on the first three holes and then birdied the par-5 4th. He had a bogey on the par-3 7th but back-to-back birdies on holes 8 and 9 helped him finish front nine at 34. On the back nine, Shabbir birdied holes 12, 14, 15 and 16. He had a bogey on hole 13. He now has a 54-hole aggregate of 206 (-10) which gives him a narrow one-shot lead over last night’s leader Minhaj.
After two rounds of 66 and 69, Minhaj carded another solid round of 72 to stay on course for a rare title in the Rs9 million championship. Three shots behind him are the duo of Lahore’s Matloob Ahmed and Karachi’s Waheed Baloch both at 210. The two seasoned pros are still in hunt just four shots off the pace.
At 211 is Muhammad Shehzad followed by the trio of Muhammad Naeem, Muhammad Nazir and Shahid Javed Khan at 212. All three of them carded scores of 67 in the third round. At 213 are Muhammad Zubair, Muhammad Imran and Akber Mehroz.
In the amateurs’ category, youngster Omar Khalid carded an impressive round of 71 to take a big eight-shot lead in the third round. Omar, an A levels student of Karachi’s Nixor College, made five birdies on holes 4, 6, 8, 9 and 11 to consolidate his lead going into the final round of the championship.
Maj Sharjeel is in second place after carding a round of 75 on Saturday. He is followed by Hamza Ghani (75) in third spot. In fourth place is Zunair Khan (78), Khalid Hussain (76) and Saim Shazli (75). The four-day championship will conclude on Sunday.