LAHORE-The 39th Punjab Open Golf Championship moved into the final phase here at the PAF Skyview Golf Course and competition wise, defending champion Matloob Ahmed of Garrison Golf Club continued to excel and with just one round to go emerged as the sole leader.

At the start of the second 18 holes on Saturday, he was bunched together with M Munir and Talib at the top, but after the conclusion of the second round, Matloob stood out as the superb one as his aggregate score for the two rounds was 138, six under par. His challengers Mohammad Munir (Rawalpindi) and Suleman Akhter (Gymkhana) are placed at a score of gross 139, five under par. 

Munir, who is a powerful hitter of the ball and loaded with golfing expertise and talent, battled hard. His second-round effort was steady and enabled him to appear as a strong contender in the final round. Suleman of Gymkhana displayed champion like capabilities as his round for the day was simply brilliant and he had a round of 64, an amazing eight under par and made up for his slackness in the first round when he scored a modest 75. Overall, he has an aggregate score of 139, five under par and places him amongst giants like Matloob and Munir. 

Another competitor, who oozed with excellence was, Talat Ijaz of Lahore Gymkhana. His two under par round of 70 on Saturday placed him in the fourth position on the leaderboard and his aggregate score after two rounds was 141, three under par. Out of the other established combatants, M Shahzad of Garrison was placed at score of 142, followed by Ahmed Baig at 143 and youngster Zohaib Asif of DHA Karachi at 143. The cut was made at the end of the second round and only 41 professionals will play on the final day today (Sunday) while 45 were weeded out. 

In the race for honors amongst amateurs, the outstanding one was Salman Jehangir of Gymkhana. He has displayed good form and with two rounds scores of 70 and 75 and an aggregate of 145, he occupied first position in amateur section. His nearest challenger was Qasim Ali Khan also of Gymkhana and lagged behind Salman by a margin of four strokes. His aggregate score was 149. Col Rustam Chatta was at a score of 154. 

The final session will be contested today (Sunday) and one expects a fierce battle between the top seven professionals. After the conclusion of the championship, the prize distribution will be held at 5:00 pm at PAF Skyview Golf and Country Club, where Punjab Golf Association (PGA) President Lt Gen (r) Amir Riaz will be chief guest.