Ace Saqib calls the tune at Faldo Series Pakistan Championship
Lahore, Pakistan (September 21): Saqib Tufail signalled a changing of the guard in Pakistani junior golf with an emphatic triumph in the sixth Faldo Series Pakistan Championship, highlighted by the first hole-in-one of his life.
Underlining his status as one of his country’s brightest emerging golfing talents, the 15-year-old raced to victory in the 11th leg of the record-breaking 2016-17 Faldo Series Asia season.
Aided by a hole-in-one at the Defence Raya Golf & Country Club’s 110-yard, par-three seventh hole, Saqib posted an opening 75 in the R&A World Amateur Golf Ranking event.
He then moved into overdrive, firing a sparkling five-under-par 67 on day two, consisting of six birdies and a solitary bogey.
Three strokes clear heading into the final round, there was not the slightest hint of a hiccup as Saqib picked up a birdie at the second and effectively sealed his success with an eagle-three at the long fifth.
After suffering his only blemish at the ninth, he stepped on the accelerator once more with four further birdies for an inward 32 and a closing 66 to top the standings in the Boys’ Under-16 category and overall.
With a 54-hole total of eight-under-par 208, Saqib, who has been trained and groomed at Lahore’s Garrison Golf Club, ended four shots clear of his closest challenger, Ahmed Baig.
But there was consolation for Ahmed, whose closing bogey-free 65 was the best round of the tournament. It also guaranteed him first place in the Boys’ Under-18 segment for the second year in succession.
As such he will join Saqib, Nadeem Aslam (Boys’ Under-21 winner) and Aania Farooq Syed (Girls’ Under-21 winner) in the 11th Faldo Series Asia Grand Final, to be hosted by Sir Nick Faldo at Laguna Lăng Cô in Danang, Central Vietnam, in March, 2017.
Six-time Major championship winner Faldo, Britain’s most successful golfer, said: “I’m excited to see fresh young faces emerging from Pakistan. Saqib excelled last year at the Pakistan Golf Federation trials and then went on to win the Under-16 category on a countback in the 2015 Faldo Series Pakistan Championship.
“However, visa complications meant the Pakistan team were not able to join us for the Grand Final. Now, I’m looking forward to welcoming them to Vietnam early next year.”
It was the fourth time that the Faldo Series Pakistan Championship had been played at the Defence Raya Golf & Country Club, which was opened in 2009 and provides one of the toughest golfing challenges in Pakistan with significant elevation changes and water coming into play on 10 holes.
Supported by The R&A and endorsed by the Asian Tour and the Asia Pacific Golf Confederation, the 2016-17 Faldo Series Asia campaign stretches over 11 months.
As well as two events in China, India and Thailand, championships will be staged in Australia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Chinese-Taipei, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Nepal, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam.
Recognised as the only global amateur series for boys and girls, the Faldo Series was established in 1996, expanding to Asia in 2006.
Today, 40 Faldo Series tournaments take place in 30-plus countries worldwide, touching more than 7,000 golfers each year. Past winners include Tseng Ya-ni and Rory McIlroy, both multiple Major winners.
Faldo Series Pakistan Championship, leading final scores:
225 – Nadeem Aslam (77-68-80)
233 – Saim Shazli (79-73-81)
235 – Ahmad Sultan Kayani (79-77-79)
244 – Hafiz M. Awais (86-77-81)
252 – Hafiz Fazl e Rabbi (85-84-83)
212 – Ahmed Baig (76-71-65)
233 – Ali Anish Rehman (80-74-79); Ibrahim Khalil (77-75-81)
234 – Murtajiz Abbas Naqvi (74-85-75)
241 – Vivek Anand (81-79-81)
208 – Muhammad Saqib Tufail (75-67-66)
225 – Damil Ataullah (72-79-74)
229 – Junaid Irfan (79-78-72)
232 – Taimur Malik (76-78-78)
235 – Rao Muhammad Haris (76-77-82)
244 – Aania Farooq Syed (84-83-77)
247 – Parkha Ijaz (86-83-78); Suneyah Osama (83-80-84)
248 – Rimsha Ijaz (81-87-80)