KARACHI: Foreign players and national professionals are all set to feature in the biggest golf competition of the year in Pakistan as the UMA-CNS Open Asian Tour Golf Championship tees off at the Karachi Golf Club from October 11.
The $300,000 UMA-CNS Open, which is a part of the Asian Tour, is being held again after a gap of 11 years with the help of Pakistan Navy and title sponsors United Marine Agency (UMA).
Dozens of international professionals from all over the world have arrived in Karachi, and not just national players, but the international stars are also excited to play in Pakistan and are looking forward to a tough competition with the top national pros.
Professionals from Austria, Australia, Bangladesh, England, India, Indonesia, Spain, South Africa, Thailand, Philippines, Sweden, Singapore, Korea, US and several other countries will be taking part in the championship to be played from October 11-14.
One of the foreign players who featured in the last Asian Tour event held in 2007, India’s seasoned 46-year-old experienced professional Digvijay Singh said it feels like home.
“This is my third visit to Pakistan as I played in the Asian Tour championships in Karachi in 2006 and 2007. I’ve been waiting for the last 11 years for the Asian Tour to return to Pakistan so that I can come and play here. It’s always a great experience and I feel like I’m playing at home,” said Singh, who has 12 career wins on the Indian Tour.
He is one of the nine Indian players competing in the UMA-CNS Open.
A former Asian Tour winner, Singh hoped that sporting events like this would help bridge the gap between Pakistan and India.
“I always feel that the people of the two countries love and respect one another. There may be political differences (among the two countries) but I believe they can be resolved through various channels and that includes sporting events like this one,” he added.
The championship will be preceded by an 18-hole Pro-Am event on October 11. Participating professionals would team up with local amateurs and invitees in the much-anticipated contest.
Pakistan’s national champion Shabbir Iqbal said, “It is always good to play with the golfers from our neighbouring countries. Indian players are always fun to compete with as we have similar culture so we create a strong bond.”
He added that the international players arriving in Pakistan will be given tough competitions by local players. “My aim is to finish in top and get ticket for international competitions,” he said.
Meanwhile, Sohail Shams, the CEO of UMA, was confident that the visiting players and Asian Tour officials would leave with lasting memories of Pakistan.
"UMA welcomes our foreign guests, players and Asian Tour officials, to Pakistan. It is a momentous occasion for us that international golfers have come to participate in UMA-CNS Open Asian Tour Golf Championship,” said Shams who himself is an avid golfer. “I hope these players will have a great time in Pakistan and enjoy our culture, our hospitality and show them that we are a sports loving nation.”
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