KARACHI: Lahore's Matloob Ahmed might not have been as successful as his illustrious rival Shabbir Iqbal or as flamboyant as the young star Ahmed Baig but he remains a fierce contender on the professional circuit.
On Thursday, the seasoned Matloob showed why he is regarded as one of the finest players on the national circuit when he played a superb round of 69 in challenging conditions at the Karachi Golf Club to take a slim one shot lead in the 27th CNS Open Golf Championship.
Matloob began Day 2 of the Rs11.1 million champion tied for the first place on the leaderboard with Ahmed Baig. Both fired rounds of 68 on the opening day. Matloob now has the sole lead with a 36-hole aggregate of 137 (-7). Just one shot behind him in second place is Ahmed at 138. Matloob began the second round with a birdie on the par-4 first hole but back-to-back bogies on the last two holes on the front nine put him on the back foot.
However, he managed to end his round on a high with four birdies on the last six holes. The birdies came on holes 13, 14, 16 and 17. Ahmed, hot favourite for the title, made birdies on holes 2 and 5 and then two birdies and an equal number of bogies on the back nine to finished with two-under par 70.
Karachi's Muhammad Ashfaq catapulted himself to third spot on the leaderboard with a stunning round of five-under par 67, the day's best score. He has an aggregate of 139, just two shots behind the lead. In fourth place is Muhammad Alam at 140 followed by the duo of Shabbir Iqbal (141) and Muhammad Zubair (141).
In the amateurs category Noman Ilyas carded an impressive round of 74 to take a two-shot lead over first day's leader Omar Khalid.