LAHORE - The four-day 53rd Amateur Golf Championship of Pakistan sponsored by United Bank Limited (UBL) will tee off from today (Thursday) here at the par 72 Royal Palm Golf and Country Club golf course.

Pakistan Golf Federation (PGF) secretary Brig (r) Nayyar Afzal said this in a press conference held at the Royal Palm Golf Club, and also addressed by Royal Palm GM Omer Mir, vice captain Haroon Arshed, Director Golf Col (r) Jameel Khalid and director media of the championship Khawaja Pervaiz Saeed.

Brig (r) Nayyar highlighted that in accordance with the eligibility criteria for this championship, only players with a handicap of seven and below can participate and one can foresee quality golf on all four days of the grand event. Of course, the more established contenders are competitors who are in national reckoning and the Pakistanis who fall in this category are Wasim Rana, Ghazanfar Mehmood, Salman Jehangir, Mohsen Zafar and M Rehman.

M Rehman and Ghazanfar Mehmood will represent Pakistan 'A' team, Taimur Khan and Salman Jehangir are members of Pakistan 'B' team and Naeem Khan and Zohaib Asif are members of the Pakistan 'C' team. The team manager is M Waqar Saigol.  Afghanistan team members are Noor Ahmed Fazel and Ali Ahmed Fazel. The team manager is Mahboob Shah Qazizada. Bangladesh team comprises M Sagor and M Nazim. The team manager is Mohiuddin Siddique. Iran team members are Raza Pour Hosseini and Ebrahim Nouri while team manager is Mostafa Shahraki. Sri Lanka is represented by Sisira Kumara and P Hemantha and team manager is Ana Punchihawa.

Brig Nayyar also said that during the championship, the events at stake are men’s national champion title, ladies national champion title, international team match and JR Jeyawardene trophy. “Another event that needs to be highlighted separately is the Inter Associations Team Match which will be contested between Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab, Sindh and Federal teams.  In the last championship, the national individual title was clinched by M Sagor of Bangladesh, international team match by Bangladesh, JR Jaewardene Trophy by Sri Lanka, Inter Association match by Sindh and Ladies Title by Ghazala Yasmin.

Kh Pervaiz said that from amongst the younger lot, those capable of causing a substantial dent in the chances of the seasoned ones are Mubariz Ahmed, Sardar Murad, Capt Anser, Fakhar Imam, Omer Salamat, M Ali, Abdul Zahoor and Wasim Rana.  In the ladies section, the total participants are 18. Ghazala Yasmin will be defending her title. The young ones seeking the national title are Maryama Khan, Tehmina Ahmed, Nushmiya Sukhera, Ana James Gill Noorie Zaman and Sunya.

Haroon Arshed was all praise for the countries who had sent their best players to add to the competitive touch in this championship. Amongst the formal moments at the Royal Palm, a significant one was be the flag hoisting ceremony in the presence of foreign teams Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Iran, Sri Lanka and the Pakistan teams. Pakistan Golf Federation senior vice president Maj Gen (r) Tariq Saleem declared the 53rd National Amateur Golf Championship of Pakistan Open. On Thursday, Rehman of Pakistan and Reza Pourhusseni of Iran and Sisira Kumara of Sri Lanka will tee off at 8am.