Three-way lead sets stage for fierce battle at JA Zaman Memorial Golf

The JA Zaman Memorial Open Golf Championship, hosted at the prestigious Lahore Gymkhana Club, witnessed a thrilling end to its first day, with a trio of golfers sharing the lead.  

The tournament, now in its 10th iteration, saw Muhammad Asif, Kashif Masih, and Hamza Amin finishing the day with a commendable score of 4-under-par 68, setting the stage for an intense competition. Over 100 of Pakistan's top professional golfers teed off under challenging conditions, marked by unusual swirling winds, yet more than 30 players managed to card par or better, showcasing a high level of play and determination. 

Hamza Amin, returning to the JA Zaman Memorial after a hiatus, managed to sink seven birdies despite stumbling with three bogeys, including one on his very first hole. Reflecting on his performance, Amin expressed satisfaction with his comeback. "It's great to be back and competing at Lahore Gymkhana. The field is incredibly strong, with so much emerging talent. I'm looking to leverage my international playing experience to stay ahead," said Amin, who clinched the Austrian Open title in 2023. 

Muhammad Asif hit the ground running with a bogey-free front nine, decorated with four birdies. Despite a more challenging back nine, Asif remained optimistic. "The greens were particularly tough today, quick and hard to hold on longer shots. I am aiming to carry my form into tomorrow and go low again," he shared after his round. 

Local talent Kashif Masih, representing Lahore Garrison Golf Club, matched the leaders' score with exceptional play, especially on the par 3s. Masih's round was a rollercoaster, highlighted by a trio of birdies on the front nine but marred by bogeys on the 9th and 18th. 

Hot on the heels of the leaders is former champion Matloob Ahmed, who finished the day at 3-under-par 69. Last year's victor, Ahmed Baig, narrowly missed joining Ahmed in second place due to a last-hole bogey, ending the day at 2-under-par 70. Close contenders Muhammad Rizwan, Tallat Ijaz, and Jafal Hussain, all representing the host club, along with Pakistan's number one, Muhammad Shabbir, who carded a 71, are still in the hunt, promising an exciting day ahead. 

As the championship progresses into its second day, which also marks the start of the amateurs’ category, anticipation builds for more outstanding golf, with the leaderboard tightly packed and everything to play for.

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