KARACHI: A three-member Pakistan team will be hoping to make its presence felt in the Mission Hills Jack Nicklaus Junior Golf Championship 2018, a major event of the Asia Pacific amateur golf calendar.
The national team featuring Junaid Irfan, Hamza Shikoh Khan and Omar Khalid will be taking part in the three-day championship to be played from June 1-3 at Mission Hills, the world’s largest golf course, in Haikou, Hainan (China).
Commodore Ghazanfar Abbas, COO of the Karachi Golf Club, will be accompanying the team as the manager.
Junaid and Hamza will compete in the 15-17 age category competition while Omar will be contesting in the 11-14 category.
The national team’s visit to Haikou is part of Pakistan Golf Federation’s plans to boost the game at the junior level.
“Our emphasis is on youngsters because they are the future,” said PGF president Gen Hilal Hussain. “We want to train youngsters and give them ample international exposure so that they can become world-class players,” he added.
The team was primarily selected on the basis of the players’ performance in Faldo Series Pakistan, a three-day tournament held in Karachi earlier this year.
“Junaid, Hamza and Omar are among our leading junior players and I’m confident that they will gain precious international experience and exposure from the visit to China,” said Asad I.A. Khan, PGF’s chairman of selectors, and president of the Sindh Golf Association.
The stakes will be high for the national players with an invitation being extended to the Nicklaus Junior Championship in the US this summer. The top-three players in each age group will have the opportunity to compete in the event to be played from June 20-21 at Palm Beach County, Florida.
Among the trio only Junaid holds international experience having represented Pakistan in Sri Lanka.
“I’m really excited about the event and am confident of giving my best in China,” said the 17-year-old who has won many junior titles in the past.
Hamza, 17, is also itching to play at Mission Hills. “Going to China and playing in the Jack Nicklaus Championship would be one of my greatest achievements and I look forward to it,” said Hamza, a student of Karachi America School, who has many junior titles under his belt.
Omar, a student of Froebel Education Centre who was the top under-14 performer in the Faldo Series Pakistan event, is also excited about the event and is hoping to make his presence felt at Mission Hills. “It is like a dream come true for me as I will be represent Pakistan in China. I hope to give my best there.”
Around 110 female and male junior golfers, from more than 10 nations will compete over 54 holes on the Sandbelt Trails Course at the Mission Hills Haikou resort.
Published in Dawn, May 29th, 2018