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Posted at: Oct 13, 2018, 2:02 AM; last updated: Oct 13, 2018, 2:02 AM (IST)

Golf back in Pak, Indians in field

Golf back in Pak, Indians in field
Indian golfer Digvijay Singh talks to the media in Karachi. AFP

Karachi, October 11

Birds were released over fairways and ceremonial drives were struck as international golf returned to Pakistan on Thursday after an 11-year absence. A full field of 132 players from around the globe were teeing up in the Asian Tour’s UMA CNS Open Championship, the latest thawing of relations with the militancy-hit country that has spent years in the sporting wilderness.

“Coming back to Pakistan is a fantastic opportunity for us,” Robert Andrew, event director of the Asian Tour told AFP, brushing off any security concerns.

No major golf tour has visited Pakistan since 2007. The last scheduled tournament, in 2008, was cancelled after a wave of insurgent attacks. But successful military operations in the country’s northwest near the Afghan border and crackdowns in urban centres, including Karachi, have improved the situation.

India’s former Asian Tour winner Digvijay Singh said arriving in Pakistan felt like home, suggesting sport could pave the road for better relations between Islamabad and Delhi. “I am really feeling home here and we are so overwhelmingly welcomed here. We are seeing the same faces not different to us,” Singh said.

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

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