Birdies within the air: Golf again in Pakistan after 11-year hitch

Birds have been launched over fairways and ceremonial drives have been struck as worldwide golf returned to Pakistan on Thursday after an 11-year absence.

A full discipline of 132 gamers from across the globe was teeing up within the Asian Tour’s UMA CNS Open Championship on the Karachi Golf Membership, the newest thawing of relations with the militancy-hit nation that has spent years within the sporting wilderness.

“Coming again to Pakistan is a incredible alternative for us,” Robert Andrew, occasion director of the Asian Tour instructed AFP, dismissing any safety issues.

“That is the place to begin for future years after the success of this occasion.”

No main golf tour has visited Pakistan since 2007. The final scheduled event, in 2008, was canceled after a wave of rebel assaults.

“It’s all the time good to be right here as individuals are very beautiful and pleasant,” stated Australian golfer Marcus Each. “I got here right here 10 years in the past. The notion is unhealthy however in actuality, it is extremely completely different.”

The 2009 assault on Sri Lanka’s cricket crew’s bus in Lahore, through which eight folks have been killed, induced all sporting visits to be suspended.

However profitable navy operations within the nation’s northwest close to the Afghan border and crackdowns in city facilities, together with the port metropolis of Karachi, have improved the scenario.

The nation has twice hosted the Pakistan Tremendous League cricket finals that includes worldwide stars plus profitable limited-overs collection towards Zimbabwe, a World XI, and Sri Lanka up to now 18 months.

They cleared the way in which for extra sports activities with squash, tennis and now golf having returned.

Partitions come down
Former Asian Tour winner and Indian nationwide Digvijay Singh stated arriving in Pakistan felt like house, suggesting sport might pave the highway for higher relations between Islamabad and Delhi.

“I’m actually feeling house right here and we’re so overwhelmingly welcomed right here. We’re seeing the identical faces not completely different to us,” Singh instructed reporters.

“Sports activities ought to convey the invisible partitions down between the 2 international locations,” he added.

India-Pakistan ties, together with sports activities and cultural contacts, plummeted after lethal 2008 assaults in Mumbai, which New Delhi blamed on Pakistani militants.

Whereas cricket stays the undisputed primary sport in Pakistan, golf is widespread with the nation’s highly effective military, with navy areas the place the highest brass reside steadily house to a few of Pakistan’s finest programs.

Pakistan’s Navy are internet hosting this week’s Asian Tour occasion, which has a $300,000 prize fund.

“There’s a very overwhelming response by international gamers and that shocked us,” stated Naval Commodore Mushtaq Ahmed.

Pakistan hosted its first Asian Tour occasion in 1989, which was received by Filipino Frankie Minoza.

The nation’s solely Asian Tour winner stays Taimur Hussain who triumphed at an occasion in Myanmar in 1998.

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