Pakistan makes history, qualifies for World Cup golf

Petaling Jaya (Malaysia), Aug 29 (Inditop.com) Muhammad Shabbir and Muhammad Munir of Pakistan created history by taking their team to their first-ever appearance at the Omega Mission Hills World Cup as they finished in the top-three at the Asian Qualifiers here Saturday.

The unheralded Pakistani duo shot a superb three-under-par 68 in the final round foursomes at Seri Selangor Golf Club to finish third behind winners Singapore, represented by Lam Chih Bing and Mardan Mamat, and the Philippines pair of Mars Pucay and Angelo Que.

Six Asian nations, including India, have qualified automatically. Jeev Milkha Singh will represent India, Thongchai Jaidee will spearhead Thailand’s challenge for the second straight year, Lin Wen-tang will lead Chinese Taipei, US-based Charlie Wi will represent South Korea while Ryuji Imada, who featured for Japan and finished tied third last year, will return for another crack at the prestigious team title.

China qualify automatically as host nation of the World Cup and will be represented by Liang Wen-chong who makes his fourth World Cup appearance.

There will be a total of 28 nations. Three qualifying tournaments in Asia (Kuala Lumpur), Europe (Estonia) and South America (Venezuela) send three teams each to join the 18 exempt nations and hosts, China, at Mission Hills.

Lam and Mardan secured their fourth World Cup appearance together after claiming a one-stroke victory following a closing 72 for a four-day total of 15-under-par 269 while Que and Pucay also signed off with a 72 to finish one back.

A World Cup appearance continues to elude the Malaysian pair of Iain Steel and Danny Chia as they ended fourth.

“Pakistan have played in the cricket World Cup, hockey World Cup and squash World Cup but never before in our history we’ve been in golf’s World Cup. We showed that we are in there for the first time and hopefully we will be able to perform well in China,” said a delighted Munir, who plays on the Asian Tour.

Pakistan mixed their scorecard with four birdies against two bogeys before nailing a crucial final birdie on the 18th hole to seal a historic debut against the world’s best in China later in November.

Shabbir, who recently recovered from a long-term back injury, relied on Munir’s experience and said his partner steered them to third place. “I couldn’t read the greens this week and I told Munir that I was out of form. But he told me that he had confidence in me and he guided me along. That’s why we made the cut.”

Lam and Mardan last qualified for the World Cup in 2006 at Seri Selangor and they were delighted to win again at the par-71 course.

Pucay and Que also qualified for their second straight World Cup appearance after a solid week. They recovered from an early bogey with an eagle on the sixth hole before dropping shots again with double bogeys on the 10th and 18th holes to finish with a four-day total of 270. Que was pleased they achieved their goal.