Karachi’s Ashfaq won the UMA 22nd Chief of Naval Staff Open Golf Championship in stunning fashion here at Karachi Golf Club.
Trailing Pakistan No. 1 by four strokes, the talented Ashfaq made four birdies on the last five holes including consecutive ones on the last three to win the most lucrative title on the national golf circuit.
Known among his peers as Russi, Ashfaq fired a superb score of four-under par 68 – the best card of the final round – to stop Shabbir from a hat-trick of major titles this season.
Shabbir, who had won the Sindh Open and UBL Independence Day Cup in Karachi earlier this month, seemed on course for victory in the Rs7 million championship as he began the final day with a two-shot lead over Ashfaq.
He doubled that lead by the end of the 14th hole and it seemed that Shabbir will just walk away with a record tenth UMA-CNS Open title.
Aided by a series of super putts, Ashfaq made a memorable comeback as he birdied the par-5 15th hole and then sank a 30-footer to save a par on the 16th. He made back-to-back birdies on the next two holes to reduce Shabbir’s lead to just one shot.
On the last hole, while Ashfaq drove to the centre of the fairway, Shabbir landed in the bushes on the left but managed to get within seven feet of the hole with his third shot. Ashfaq hit his approach shot to just six feet from the hole. While Shabbir, who was struggling with his putter the whole day, missed the hole, Ashfaq birdied it to become the UMA-CNS Open champion.
Defending champion Matloob Ahmed finished third after two double bogeys on the final day. The duo of Hamza Amin and Muhammad Munir were tied for the fourth place. They were followed by Waheed Baloch and Moazzam Siddiq.
Lahore’s Ahmed Baig won the amateurs’ (gross) title ahead of M. Sharif while Captain Imran Rana prevailed in the net category. KGC stalwart Sohail Kareem Rana won the seniors crown ahead of Brig Nayyar Afzal, Secretary Pakistan Golf Federation (PGF).
Other title winners included Humera Khalid, Suneyah Osama (ladies), Dr Imran Ghayoor (seniors), Waleed Chachar, Hamza Gheewala, Yashal Shah and Omar Intesar (juniors).
Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Muhammad Zakaullah was the chief guest at the prize distribution ceremony of the four-day championship that was participated by a total of 640 players in various categories.
Commending the untiring efforts of Pakistan Navy, KGC staff and the organisers of the championship, Admiral Zakaullah said that the successful conduct of the event is the manifestation of highest level of patronage enjoyed by this game. He added that golf undoubtedly is a fast emerging game for all ages in Pakistan and Pakistan Navy takes pride in organising a golf championship of this stature every year.
Sohail Shams, CEO of United Marine Agencies, said that his company will continue to support national golf as a part of its vision for a bright and prosperous Pakistan.
Final results (professionals):
276: Muhammad Ashfaq
277: Shabbir Iqbal
281 Matloob Ahmed
285: Hamza Amin, Muhammad Munir
287: Waheed Baloch
289: Moazzam Siddiq
290: Muhammad Tariq, Naeem Khan
291: Muhammad Sohail