PAKISTAN IN THE LIMELIGHT OF GOLF WORLD
Pakistan has some wonderful golf facilities to host international class championships
By ANISUDDIN KHAN
Jan 30 - Feb 05, 2006
Successfully organizing and reviving international golf by hosting US$ 200,000 prize carrying Pakistan here at Karachi Golf Club recently, the Pakistan Golf Federation has once again brought international lime on Pakistan.
The four-day 72 hole championship was important for two reasons. By hosting the event successfully, the PGF would restore confidence of international sports community in Pakistan and particularly Karachi, which unfortunately was called a security risk city. Secondly it would given a huge professional community in Pakistan mostly belonging to low income group an opportunity to establish their mark and win handsome cash prizes.
The PGF led by Lt. Pervez Ashfaque Kayani has succeeded in achieving both the aims. For the first time the PGF headed by a keen golf promoter arranged funds that one could only dream in organizing a sporting event.
Secretary of the PGF Taimur Hasan, himself a former amateur international star also played a crucial role in convincing the Asian Tour officials that Pakistan had the necessary financial backing and top grade facilities to host a competition of such a magnitude in which world's best golfers could play.
Selection of Karachi Golf Club located in the secure environ inside a naval establishment was a wise decision. The course not only had the best facilities but it was close to the city and secured, which was one of the reasons to host the event there.
KGC is one of the premier golf courses in the country. It has a hundred year long history, which started with the annexation of Sindh by the colonial British.
Founded over 100 years ago, by the British enthusiasts, this club initially was an extension of Sindh Club, which was constructed around 1870. The first course was built on a piece of land behind the residence of now US Consul General. That area is still called Golf Road. When the first extension of the old club was made the land now where JPMC stand became part of the fairways.
However, after Independence the city of Karachi suddenly saw influx of million of migrants and there was pressure on land and property inside the city.
Around 1958 the KGC was relocated and it got a new home now where it is located inside the PNS Karsaz.
In the early years it was desert course. The fairways were sandy and the greens were called" chocolate" made with sand blended with diesel oil. Top bureaucrats, industrialist and bankers of the like of RD Habib patronized the clubs despite its shortcomings. Though at that time the club had just rudimentary facilities but the course was rated amongst top 100.
Many changes and improvement have been brought about by a group of dedicated, veteran, playing members of the KGC over the years.
About 20 years back the managing committee of the club emboldened by the funds at its command initiated a plan to green the entire course. It was a challenging task and demanding from the financial point of view. Around Rs.10 million was needed to recast the entire course, bring water from the nearest available source and hire professionals to crate a facility which would be second to none in the region.
The hardest part of collecting funds surprisingly became the easiest when all the members announced their personal support.
However bringing water needed to green the course and maintain it the year round turned out to be the most difficult. There was no source close by from where clean water could be drawn and used to green the huge 7000 yard course.
However during the discussion one member golfer informed the managing committee that treated water could be taken from Mahmoodabad sewerage treatment and an exclusive pipeline laid for over six kilometers to bring the liquid gold to the course.
As the managing committee had influential and the resourceful individuals, all together looked into the possibility to use the treated water. Consultations were made with engineers and water experts who said treated water would be ideal for use to create a facility one could only dream about.
Luckily for the Managing Committee, stumbled upon the fact that a water pipeline carrying treated water from Mahmoodabad already exist and carry the water to airport for water trees and other kinds of facilities. This pipeline ran close to the course.
Contracts were made and in about two years time, the first flow of treated water reached KGC course in early eighties.
In the meantime survey of the course was conducted and a golf architect was hired to design a course that would be the best. Earth moving machine started moving into the sandy land of the course and a new designer's course started taking shape. Thousand of trees were planted to give a beautiful landscape.
By the middle of the 90's, sprawling 27 holes spread over 217 acres with a par 72 was over.
The three courses at the Club are known as the Red Course, the Yellow course and the Blue course. The Red and Blue courses boast of some long par five which go beyond 600 yards.
Punctuated by fairways, bunkers and occasional cactus in the middle of the fairways, sand trap surrounding, the greens and water hazards challenge the golfers' skills all the time.
The tee surfaces are beautifully kept and manicured, fairways are padded and joy to walk. The greens are most of the time soft and fast.
On this scenic and historical course the PGF decided to revive the Asian professional tour after a lapse of eight years. The PGF signed an agreement under PGF would host Pakistan open with big prize money in dollars for a three year period.
PGF's Taimur Hasan commented after Pakistan was allotted the event" .One of the PGF's objective by hosting around 140 foreign golfers in Pakistan open is to elevate the stature of Pakistan open".
"Pakistan has some wonderful golf facilities to host international class championships. It has been ten years since Pakistan last hosted an international tournament and the Federation feels that Pakistan just catch up with the world golf.
"We are looking at a humble beginning and aim at slowly makes Pakistan open bigger and better. This event will be a catalyst to develop further professional golf in Pakistan. He said PGF would be able to get a few exemption from the Asian Tour to field as many professional national golfers as possible
Pakistan is truly a hidden jewel as a golfing nation. There are some wonderful courses across the country. With the vision and support of the PGF.
On this course on early January 19 morning as many as 144 golfers that included about forty local started on a four day journey which will give them huge winners purse of about US$310,00.
Pakistan hopes hinged on defending champion Imdad Hussain, Taimur Hussain who is the only Pakistani to win an Asian tour title, Shabbir and Munir.
Golfers from sixteen countries had flown here to try their luck to win important points.
Chris Walker of England was one of them. At the end of the third round, he took a commanding lead and while maintaining it won the coveted title.
Chris Rodgers of England claimed his maiden Asian Tour title with a victory at the US$200,000 Pakistan Open.
Pakistan's Muhammad Munir who had a chance to clinch the top failed to rise to the challenge in the final round to finish joint fourth.
Muhammad Munir fired disappointing three over 75 for the final round to finish seven under 279 to share fourth position with Frankie Minoza of Philippines and Iain Steel of Malaysia who all finished with the same.
High hopes were attached to Muhammad Munir who played three impressive rounds and another sub seventy score would have brought him much higher in the ladder but his form deserted him on crucial moments.
Rodgers, 29, who led by three strokes overnight, was unshakable as he closed in with an even-par 72 to a four-day total of 15 under-par 273.
The London-born golfer held his game despite mounting pressure from Indian duo of Amandeep Johl and Jeev Milkha Singh who finished tied second four strokes off the pace. Filipino ace Frankie Minoza charged up the board when he shot a superb 65 and ended the tournament on 279 in tied fourth position alongside Malaysia's Iain Steel.
Local hero Muhammad Munir, who was in tied second position after the third round, slipped on the final day after a 75 as he finished six strokes off the pace. Similarly for Welshman Mark Mouland who was in contention but dropped nine spots to tied 11th after poor 78.
"I did not putt well the entire round. This is certainly not my day," said Munir.
Rodgers, meanwhile, successfully fended off a late charge by the Indian duo through birdies on the second before a bogey on the third. He had a roller coaster run with a birdie on the fifth hole but went on to bogey the seventh and ninth holes. A birdie on the 11th, bogey on the 12th and a final birdie on the 15th sealed his win.
Former Indian national champion Johl made a late comeback with five birdies and three bogeys with a similar feat by Singh, a multiple winner in Asia.
It was a creditable performance by Rodgers who was a whisker away from success after the Carlsberg Masters Vietnam last November where he finished second best.
It was also an amazing final round for Minoza who is one of Asia's best-known golfers and a multiple winner in Japan. The 47-year-old birdied the fifth and sixth holes before blazing past the back nine with five consecutive birdies on the 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th and 17th holes; He enjoyed a bogey-free round and ended with an impressive 65.
Iain Steel, first timer to the Asian Tour, was pleased with his result in Pakistan as he carded a 71.
Pakistan's second ranked golfer Mohamed Shabbir Iqbal was tied 11th after an even par for the day alongside Sri Lanka's Anura Ronaha who finished with a 70.
Leaderboard at the end of the fourth round.
273 - Chris Rodgers (ENG) 69-64-68-72
277 - Jeev Milkha Singh (IND) 68-69-71-69, Amandeep Johl (IND) 68-67-73-69
279 - Frankie Minoza (PHI) 72-73-69-65, Iain Steel (MAS) 73-66-69-71, Muhammed Munir (PAK) 70-68-66-75
280 - Jochen Lupprian (GER) 72-68-70-70, Ashok Kumar (IND) 68-70-70-72
281 - Marcus Both (AUS) 70-71-71-69, Barry Hume (SCO) 70-72-66-73
282 - Arjun Singh (IND) 69-69-75-69, Anura Rohana (SRI) 71-70-71-70, Shabbir Iqbal (PAK) 70-67-73-72, Imdad Hussain (PAK) 68-72-71-71, Matloob Ahmed (PAK) 70-70-70-72, Mark Mouland (WAL) 68-65-71-78
283 - Simon Hurd (ENG) 73-72-68-70, Unho Park (AUS) 71-69-72-71, Digvijay Singh (IND) 71-69-70-73, Akinori Tani (JPN) 69-72-68-74, 284 - Felix Casas (PHI) 76-68-71-69, Richard Moir (AUS) 73-69-71-71
285 - Sushi Ishigaki (JPN) 71-72-73-69, Olle Nordberg (SWE) 69-75-71-70, Mardan Mamat (SIN) 76-67-71-71, Vivek Bhandari (IND) 72-70-71-72, Brad Kennedy (AUS) 73-67-73-72, Jeremy Kavanagh (ENG) 70-69-73-73
286 - Zaw Moe (MYN) 74-71-71-70, Daniel Wardrop (ENG) 74-70-70-72, Yasin Ali (ENG) 74-71-68-73
287 - Anthony Kang (USA) 72-73-72-70, Mohammad Siddique (PAK) 75-71-70-71, Rahil Gangjee (IND) 72-71-72-72, Lee Rhind (SCO) 70-72-72-73
ASIAN TOUR GOLF TOURNAMENT
Started on: 19th Jan, 2006
Ended on: 22nd Jan, 2006
Venue: Karachi Golf Club
Total sum of Prize worth: US$ 2 lac
Prize Money for Winner Worth: US$ 35 Thousand
Winner: Chris Rodgers (England)
1st Runner up: Jeev Milkha (India) & Amandeep (India)
Chief Guest: Lt. Gen. Ashfaq Pervez Kiyani