Vaqas Ahmed and Tariq Mahmood won the last two holes to give Pakistan a slender one-point lead on the opening day of the Ravi Kirloskar Trophy India - Pakistan golf at the Karnataka Golf Association in Bangalore on Wednesday.
At the end of the first six matches played on a `Foursome alternate shot' format, the visitors led 3.5-2.5.
Pitted against a stronger Indian side, comprising Simarjeet Singh and Gaganjeet Bhullar, the Pakistani duo of Vaqas and Tariq pulled off superb win. The home side did begin well, winning the opening hole, but immediately lost the advantage on the next hole. Simarjeet pulled one back for India on the third as the home side consolidated the lead on the sixth to go 2-up.
After a bout of fluctuating fortunes, in which the host managed to gain the upper hand, Pakistan, represented by their talented pair, drew parity on the 11th. From then it was a real fight as both teams displayed some superb fighting skills till the 16th with the score still all-square.
It was on the 17th that the Indians faltered, when Simarjeet failed to drain an 8-footer par putt, whereas their counterparts managed a good up and down from 70 yards with Tariq draining a 15-footer. With 1-up and one hole to go, the defending champions won the final hole to take a full point.
In the other amateur match, the duo of Mohd. Ali Hai, the No.1 ranked player, and Mohd. Safdar Khan were pitted against Manav Das and Chirag Kumar. The Indians went ahead on the third hole and maintained the lead till the Pakistanis leveled on eighth. The Indians then won two holes in succession to take a 2-0 lead. However, equilibrium was restored after the home side lost two consecutive holes on the 12th and 13th, with the Indians three-putting on the former.
After a win and a loss on the next two holes, both teams finished level and shared the point. In fact, both had four-feet par putts, and decided to `give' the putt.
"We thought after such a good match, no one should lose. Hence we decided to share the point," said Ali Hai.
"It is a good start for us because most of our players are playing the course for the first time," said Taimur Hassan, captain of the Pakistan team.
"The matches were seriously fought, but off the course we still are good friends," he added.
This was echoed by non-playing Indian captain Dilip Thomas.
"The hospitality ends on the first tee and resumes after the 18th," he said.
This was after their senior counterparts had squared the series 2-2. Local hero David D'Souza and 1982 Asian Games gold Medallist Amit Luthra recorded the highest margin of victory, winning 6 & 5 over Imran Zubair and Mohd. However, in the other match in the same category, Amer Mahmood and Sardar Khan routed the Indian pair of Ranjit Atwal and Ankur Prakash 5 & 4.
In the over-50 category too, both teams shared the spoils with the duo of Gangesh Khaitan and Vijay Kumar prevailing over Imran Ahmed and Javed Khan 3 & 2. The legendary Taimur Hassan and Syed Bokhari beat the pair of Ashok Malik and Vikramjit Singh with a similar scoreline.
The `Foursome Best ball' format will be played on the morrow along with the Friendship Cup which features some of the top corporates of the city.
The results (Pakistan names first):
Amateurs: Vaqas Ahmed & Tariq Mehmood bt Gaganjeet Bhullar & Simarjeet Singh 2-up; Mohd. Ali Hai & Mohd. S Khan drew with Manav Das & Chirag Kumar.
Over 40 category: Amer Mahmood & Sardar M Khan bt Ranjit Atwal & Ankur Prakash 5 & 4; Imran Zubair & Mohd. Saigol lost to David D'Souza & Amit Luthra 6 & 5;
Over 50 category: Imran Ahmed & Javed Khan lost to Gangesh Khaitan & Vijay Kumar 3 & 2; Taimur Hassan Syed S Bokhari 3 & 2.