Lahore, Pakistan: Rimsha Ijaz produced an eye-catching performance to upstage her male rivals in the eighth Faldo Series Pakistan Championship.
Taking advantage of the absence of defending champion Ahmed Baig, it was Ijaz who revelled in the spotlight in the 10th leg of the 2018-19 Faldo Series Asia season at the Lahore Defence Raya Golf Course.
Reaping the rewards of a recent dedicated practice regimen, Ijaz was a model of consistency in The R&A World Amateur Golf Ranking event at her home club.
Following up an opening 71 with a sparkling four-under-par 68 on day two, Ijaz swept into an 11-stroke lead at the half-way stage. “I was so pleased with my shot-making and I look forward to excelling to an extent that I look better than boys,” said Ijaz, who was able to coast home with 74s in the final two rounds.
With a 72-hole total of one-under 287, Ijaz ended 10 strokes clear of her younger sister, Parkha, the overall runner-up. In the process, she succeeded in raising the profile of women’s golf in the South Asian nation and delighting Asma Shami, the Pakistan Golf Federation Executive Committee Member responsible for the development of ladies golf in the country.
Ijaz will have a further chance to showcase her prowess the 13th Faldo Series Asia Grand Final, to be hosted by Sir Nick Faldo at Laguna Lăng Cô in Danang, Central Vietnam, in March, 2019.
Joining her in the Pakistan contingent will be fellow age-group winners M. Arslan (Boys’ Under-21), Muhammad Saqib (Boys’ Under-18), Damil Attaullah (Boys’ Under-16) and Humna Amjad (Girls’ Under-16), who received their prizes at the Defence Raya Golf Course from Pakistan Golf Federation President Lieutenant General Hilal Hussain.
With Baig competing in the 22nd Faldo Series Europe Grand Final at the Al Ain Equestrian Shooting & Golf Club in the United Arab Emirates, Saqib posted the best score among the boys, shooting all four rounds in the 70s, to retain his title in the Under-18 category.
Overall winner in 2016 but a distant second to Baig last year, Saqib went on to finish equal sixth in the Boys’ Under-18 age group at this year’s Grand Final – a position he’ll be eager to improve upon in 2019.
Also looking forward to a return to Vietnam is Damil, who comfortably defended his title in the Boys’ Under-16 segment.
Six-time Major champion Faldo, Britain’s most successful golfer, said: “Congratulations to Rimsha, who has continued a memorable year of success for girls associated with the Faldo Series.
“As well as celebrating the first overall female winner at the Faldo Series Asian Grand Final, in 2018 we’ve also seen maiden LPGA Tour victories for former Faldo Series Asia stalwarts Thidapa Suwannapura and Nasa Hataoka.
“I look forward to seeing Rimsha further improving her golf game in the months ahead and to becoming a role model for female golfers in Pakistan and the region.”
The 2018-19 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.
As well as two events in China, India and Thailand, championships are being staged in Australia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Chinese-Taipei, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Nepal, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam.