KARACHI: When Shabbir Iqbal comfortably birdied the first hole in the second round of Bank AL Habib’s 7th Rashid D. Habib Memorial National Professional Golf Championship here at KGC on Friday, the Pakistan No. 1 seemed all set for yet another superb round.
But the defending champion, who carded 67 on the opening day, missed one birdie opportunity after another finishing the second round at one-under par 71 with pars on 17 consecutive holes.
With an aggregate of 138 (-6), he still enjoys a two-shot lead but the Islamabad golfer wasn’t happy with his performance.“It could have been better,” said Shabbir who could be headed towards yet another final day showdown with his chief rival Muhammad Munir in the four-day tournament.
The diminutive Munir, who is also from Islamabad, followed his opening day 71 with an impressive card of four-under 68 to catapult himself into contention for the coveted title.He is two shots off the pace and is tied for the second place on the leader-board with the quartet of Moazzam Siddique of DHA, Amjad Yousuf, Ahmed Saeed (KGC) and Matloob Ahmed of Lahore Garrison.
The day’s best round was played by the relatively little known Muhammad Zubair of KGC. Zubair who played a forgettable round of 76 on the opening day carded five-under par 67 for an aggregate of 143, just behind the third-placed duo of Talib Hussain and Muhammad Asif.
Former champion Waheed Baloch made his presence felt with 71 but the seasoned golfer was extremely unhappy with his putting.“It was horrible today,” said Waheed, who is generally regarded as one of the best putters on the national circuit.
A total of 104 professionals featured in the second round of the Rs6 million tournament.This year, the main tournament will be played over 72 holes instead of 54. The senior national professionals and junior professionals are playing in their respective categories concurrently.
As before, appearance money amounting to Rs500,000 will be distributed among top five golfers of the country. The golfers have two more days to make a hole-in-one which carries Bank AlHabib’s brand new 1300cc car.
Following is the leader-board after second round:
138 – Shabbir Iqbal
140 – Muhammad Munir, Moazzam Siddique, Amjad Yousuf, Ahmed Saeed, Matloob Ahmed
142: Talib Hussain, Muhammad Asif
143 – Muhammad Zubair, Ansar Mehmood, Muhammad Tariq
145 – Muhammad Naqas, Rafiq Ahmed
146 – Waheed Baloch, Muhammad Alam, Safdar Khan