x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Former instructor lives up to his reputation in Saudi Arabia

Pakistan's Masih 'couldn't have asked for more' after winning his biggest cheque from a play-off win at Dirab.

Shafiq Masih hailed his win at the inaugural Dirab Golf Championship as a victory for Pakistan golf in Saudi Arabia.
Shafiq Masih hailed his win at the inaugural Dirab Golf Championship as a victory for Pakistan golf in Saudi Arabia.

Pakistan's commitment to this season's Mena Tour paid off yesterday with Shafiq Masih sealing victory in dramatic fashion in the Dirab Golf Championship.

The former Dirab Golf and Country Club golf instructor needed every bit of his local knowledge to overturn a three-shot deficit and defeat the Welshman Craig Smith, in a play-off to take the tour's inaugural Saudi Arabian title.

Masih and Smith matched each other's final round scores to fire six-under-par 66s and share the course record, yet it was the former who kept his nerve after they tied on eight-under 208 in regulation play.

Masih, one of eight Pakistan players contesting this year's tour, birdied the first extra hole - the par-4 18th - while his playing partner could manage only par.

"It feels just great to win an international event of this stature," said Masih on picking up a cheque for US$9,000 (Dh33,000), the biggest payday of his career.

"I have won a couple of tournaments in Pakistan, but this one is special in the sense it has come on a course where I used to give golfing lessons to club members.

"In a way, my reputation was at stake, but I couldn't have asked for more. This victory is a victory for Pakistan golf."

It was a contrasting story for Daniel Owen, though, the overnight joint leader, who carded an embarrassing 10 on the par-five 15th to finish fifth overall.

England's William Harrold, who had shared the overnight lead with Owen, posted a one-under par 71 to come home in fourth place. His compatriot, Ian Keenan, was third on seven-under.

Amine El Malki, the talented Moroccan, lifted the amateur trophy as he tied for seventh.