Ras Al Khaimah: Mohammad Munir carded a glorious six-under-par 66 to set a new course record and surge to the top of the leaderboard after the first round of the Ras Al Khaimah Classic, the fourth event on the 2012 Mena Golf Tour at Tower Links Club on Monday.
Inspired by his compatriot Shafiq Masih’s victory last week in Saudi Arabia, Munir reeled off seven birdies, including three in a row from the 16th and two bogeys to establish a two-shot lead over England amateur Tyler Hogarty.
Anton Haig, the winner of the 2007 Johnnie Walker Classic, headed the chasing pack at three-under 69 along with Fredrick Quicker of Sweden, Mohammad Agmit (Morocco), Daniel Owen (England) and Berni Reiter (Austria). Among the notables, Stephen Dodd, a three-winner on the European Tour, settled for a level-par 72 while Zane Scotland made a 71 and Yasin Ali signed off with a 73.
It was Pakistan’s Munir who held centre stage with a clinical display, especially on the back nine, which was studded with four birdies.
“I really played solid golf from tee to green. Almost all of my birdie putts were from close range, which shows I was hitting my approach shots close to the pins,” said Munir, who finished a solo third at the Dubai Creek Open, the opening event of this year’s Mena tour.
“I started with a bogey but managed to birdie the next one and that gave me a big confidence boost. Things thereafter were pretty smooth,
“I think Shafiq’s win last week has motivated the entire Pakistan contingent. We are charged up to do well on the tour.”
Jake Shepherd, who had previously held the course record by one shot, was again forced to pull out because of a recurring neck injury, ending his hopes of regaining the order of merit title he won last year.
England’s Hogarty, however, looks well on course to winning the order of merit title for amateurs if his current form is any indication. The talented youngster needed to overcome the discomfort of an eye infection to shoot a solid 68.
Currently second on the order of merit despite missing the Saudi Arabia leg of the tour, Hogarty rattled off three birdies in a row from the 12th hole to seize the initiative.
“I think I played really well, especially my iron shots were spot on. Some good putting further made things easier for me,” said Hogarty, who woke up yesterday with the eye problem.
“My ultimate goal is to finish among top three in the order of merit standings and win a place in the 2013 Omega Dubai Desert Classic. I am getting there, but still a lot of golf is to be played before I realise my dream.”