Ali looking for maiden win in Pakistan
Yasin Ali may not yet be in the mould of Paul Casey, Lee Westwood
or David Howell, all giants of the English game, but the Asian Tour
stalwart intends to drive his way to the forefront of the upcoming
The talented Ali begins his quest for glory at the season-opening
US$300,000 Pakistan Open next week and he is yearning to find the
punch in his game that could land a first professional victory.
A product of the innovative Faldo Series, a programme run by six-time
Major winner Nick Faldo to unearth new stars, Ali said a walk up
the winner's podium at the Karachi Golf Club would be a dream come
true as his grandparents hail from Pakistan.
"One of my goals (in 2007) will be to get that elusive first
win on the Asian Tour," said the Dubai-based Ali. "It's
something that I'm not going to chase but something that I'll go
about it quietly towards achieving.
"It'll be awesome if I can do it in Pakistan. I was thinking
of something like that. To win there would be fantastic as I've
got family there. It would be like a home win," added Ali,
who finished tied 29th in last year's Pakistan Open.
Ali, who was born in Kenya, has sporting genes in his blood as
his father was an international cricketer for East Africa in two
World Cups but he opted for golf clubs instead of the cricket bat
when his family migrated to England. As an amateur, he represented
England at all levels and also Great Britain and Ireland in the
2003 Walker Cup before joining the professional rank later that
Last season was a breakthrough for Ali as he made a strong impression
on his Asian Tour debut, finishing 32nd on the UBS Order of Merit
following three top-10 finishes and five other top-25s.
Naturally, the big-hitting Englishman is hoping his progress will
lead to regular success in Asia before he thinks of challenging
the likes of Casey, Westwood and Howell on a weekly basis.
"I'm definitely looking forward to Pakistan. It'll be my first
event of the year and I had a great time there in 2006, being with
family members and friends which is a good help," said Ali.
"Without a doubt, it's going to be a special week. Last year
was the first time I've seen my relatives in 12 years or so. The
last time they saw me I was four feet three and now I'm six feet
one. It's nice. Pakistan has a special place in my heart. That's
where my grandparents came from and my other set of grandparents
are from India. Those places in the sub-continent mean something
He has been over the moon with his steady progress on the Asian
Tour, which is offering no fewer than 29 tournaments and an all-time
high of US$26 million in its 2007 season. But Ali knows he must
place his feet firmly on the ground.
"It's been a fairy tale. I started out on the number at Qualifying
School and my first event was Pakistan and I was telling the media
how much having the Asian Tour badge meant to me. I was proud and
honoured to be a part of something that is growing and that is going
to be big.
"We have great players every week and the fields are strong.
It was a high for me. I played well, kept making cuts and improved
on the ranking slowly. I had that good week in the Pulai Springs
Malaysian Masters (finishing third) and then played well in the
Barclays Singapore Open to secure my card. My confidence went up
the roof and I started raking up good finishes. It's been awesome.
"I've got pretty much the same goals in 2007. I would love
to finish in the top-15 (of the UBS Order of Merit), that would
be a nice goal. I would like to drop my stroke average down to 70
or less as well," he said.
Ali believes his Asian heritage has brought great benefits to his
golfing life. "That is where I get my discipline from. I'm
a disciplined kind of guy. If you look at the people from these
parts of the world, discipline is a standard. They are so focussed.
"You look at the likes of Thailand's Prom Meesawat and Chinarat
Phadungsil. They've had success so early in their careers and you
think they would go the opposite way. The more they win, the more
humble they get."
Chris Rodgers of England is the defending champion of the Pakistan
January 10, 2007