For a couple of years since turning pro Hamza Amin has more or less failed to realise his true potential. And one of the biggest reasons behind it has been his putting.
But on Friday here at the picture-perfect course of the Karachi Golf Club (KGC), Hamza overcame his putting demons as he sank six birdies to card a stunning round of five-under par 67 to take a two-shot lead in the 24th UMA CNS Open Golf Championship.
One of his birdies came from more than 25 feet, on the Blue 6th (15th hole), as Hamza finished the round with a total of 28 putts.
“Usually in the past I’ve struggled on the greens in Karachi but no today,” Hamza told ‘The News’. “Today my putting was really good and I can say that it was the most solid part of my game,” added Hamza, who is son of legendary golfer Taimur Hassan.
Hamza’s greatest weakness is the harmless looking short putt. He has missed dozens of them in the past and even on a day when he was enjoying his red-hot putter, he missed a tap-in one-footer. Old habits do die hard.
“After putting so well throughout the day I somehow missed this one-footer on the last hole (Blue 9th). That was my only bogey of the day,” said Hamza who is now hoping to continue giving his best in the business end of the Rs8.1 million championship.
He fired a round of 70 on the opening day despite a self-imposed penalty of two strokes for carrying an extra club in his golf bag.
“I’ve really worked hard on my game during the past few weeks and hopefully will keep giving my best in the coming days,” he said.
Apart from putting, another big reason why Hazma succeeded where most of the top professionals failed was the fact that he managed to find a lot of fairways. And that made a huge difference considering that the recent monsoon rains have resulted in dense rough areas all over the lush-green KGC course. Missing the fairways can really cost you.
Hamza’s two-day aggregate of 137 (-7) gives him a two-shot lead over the second-placed duo of Talib Hussain and Shahid Javed Khan (139).
Talib, from Islamabad, carded an impressive 69 while the seasoned Shahid, from Lahore, scored another steady round of 70.
The two of them might be among the leading contenders but the one man who is not lurking far behind is the vastly-accomplished Shabbir Iqbal. The Pakistan No.1, who has so far won 171 national-level titles during a long and illustrious career, carded 68 in the second round for an aggregate of 140.
He is followed at 141 by Muhammad Nazir, Waheed Baloch, Muhammad Asif, Muhammad Munir and Shafaq Khan.
The newly-crowned Sindh Open champion Ahmad Baig, regarded as the best young professional in the country, slipped behind after a forgettable round of 73.
Meanwhile, there was further excitement in the championship when a third hole-in-one was recorded in the event on Friday. Altaf Hashwani made the hole-in-one while playing in the amateurs category. Earlier professional Salman Akhtar and amateur Omar Bayat had achieved that feat on Thursday. It is quite a rare occasion that three aces have been recorded in a championship.
In the amateurs category, Peshawar’s Taimur Khan (145) fired 73 to take a three-shot lead against Karachi’s Zohaib Asif (148). Saim Shazli is at third place followed by Raja Israr, Zubair Hussain, Salman Khan, M Ziaraf, Junaid Irfan and Sajid Khan.
The four-day championship will conclude on Sunday (tomorrow).