Karachi, Pakistan: In-form Ahmed Baig outgunned his rivals with an outstanding display of front-running as he swept to victory in the seventh Faldo Series Pakistan Championship.
Baig assumed control of the 14th leg of the 2017-18 Faldo Series Asia season with a bogey-free, opening six-under-par 66 at the Defence Authority Country and Golf Club and never looked back.
His three-day aggregate of 11-under-par 205 was no fewer than 19 strokes ahead of his closest pursuer, enabling Baig to record one of the biggest winning margins in Faldo Series Asia history.
“I really wanted this trophy in the bag in my last year as an amateur,” said the 19-year-old, who had twice before been close to winning the Faldo Series Pakistan Championship. “If I keep playing at amateur level, I’ll lose the form I’m in. At this moment, I’m on top of my game and believe I can really push on.
“A good performance at the Faldo Series Asia Grand Final would certainly help me in getting a sponsorship. That’s what I’m aiming for,” added Baig, who learned the game from his brother, who works as a caddie.
Since finishing as the leading Pakistani at last year’s Faldo Series Asia Grand Final, Baig’s stock has risen considerably.
As well as winning both the CNS Open and Punjab Amateur, he was the leading individual from Pakistan in the 2017 Asia-Pacific Men’s Amateur Team Championship for the Nomura Trophy.
Now he will set his sights on spearheading the Pakistan challenge at the 12th edition of the Faldo Series Asia Grand Final, to be hosted by Sir Nick Faldo at Laguna Lăng Cô in Danang, Central Vietnam, in early March.
Joining him there will be Muhammad Saqib Tufail (Boys’ Under-18 winner), Damil Attaullah (Boys’ Under-16 winner) and Aania Farooq Syed (Girls’ Under-21 winner).
Salman Abbasi, the Pakistan Golf Federation (PGF) Manager, said: “The Faldo Series Pakistan Championship is our major event of the year for juniors. In Pakistan, the PGF initiated it for the first time seven years ago and it has helped us find new talent.”
Among the brightest prospects that have emerged are Baig and Tufail.
After a one-under 71, Tufail saw his hopes of a successful title defence evaporate with a second-round 79. Thanks to a closing 75, he managed to hold off a fast-finishing Ralfe’e Raja for top spot in the Boys’ Under-18 category, thus earning himself a second successive trip to the Vietnam showcase.
“I’ve got a chance to do well in Vietnam and now all my focus will be towards that,” said Tufail, who beat Baig by four shots to win last year’s Faldo Series Pakistan Championship.
While Attaullah was a runway winner in his division, Aania prevailed by a single stroke from Rimsha Ijaz in the Girls’ category.
The 2017-18 Faldo Series Asia season is supported by The R&A and endorsed by the Asian Tour and the Asia Pacific Golf Confederation. The International Junior Golf Academy is a partner of the Faldo Series.