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Pakistan Open to join Asian Tour

The Asian Tour will break new ground next January with the staging of the Pakistan Open in Karachi .

The Pakistan Golf Federation, which has organised the Pakistan Open since 1967, recently concluded an agreement to stage its Open on the Asian Tour for the first time from next year. The initial agreement is for a three-year duration.

The 2006 Pakistan Open will offer total prize money of US$200,000 and will be played from January 19-22 in Karachi , with the host venue to be announced in due course.

Pakistan Golf Federation (PGF) Honorary Secretary Taimur Hassan said: "This is an important development for Pakistan golf. One of PGF's objectives was to elevate the stature of the Pakistan Open and we believe that we will achieve this by working closely with the Asian Tour.

" Pakistan has some wonderful golf facilities to host international-class championships. It has been nearly 10 years since Pakistan last hosted an international tournament and we feel that we need to catch up with world golf. By hosting the Pakistan Open on the Asian Tour, it will help realise our goal."

Hassan added that the PGF was not planning to host the Open this year and was putting in all its resources to ensure the success of the 2006 Pakistan Open. He firmly believes that the ground-breaking development would also accelerate the growth and playing standards in Pakistan .

"We are looking at a humble beginning, and aim to slowly make the Pakistan Open bigger and better. Once it is successful, we will look at the idea of hosting a second Asian Tour event here," said Hassan, who has won the Pakistan Open on three occasions.

"This event will be the catalyst to develop further professional golf in Pakistan . We are also hoping to obtain a few exemptions for our players to play on the Asian Tour. Through our Open, our young and aspiring players will have to the opportunity to develop and play on the world stage and watch some of Asia 's best players in action."

Asian Tour Chief Executive Louis Martin was delighted to seal an historic deal that will take Asia 's best players to a new destination next year. "One of our visions is to create playing opportunities in developing golf nations. We have successfully hosted new events in Vietnam and Brunei previously and the agreement to stage the Pakistan Open is a wonderful development for the Asian Tour.

" Pakistan is truly a hidden jewel as a golfing nation. There are some wonderful facilities that are over 100 years old and we are looking forward to an exciting week of golf in Karachi . With the vision and support from the PGF, the Asian Tour will help ensure that the Pakistan Open becomes a permanent fixture on our Schedule."

The Pakistan Open has primarily been a domestic event since its inauguration nearly 40 years ago. In 1989, the championship was part of the old Asian circuit where the event was won by Filipino star Frankie Minoza, who still plays on the Asian Tour.

Pakistan has produced only one Asian Tour winner in the past following Taimur Hussain's success at the 1998 Myanmar Open. Hassan said that the PGF would invite Hussain to play in next year's Pakistan Open.

The PGF oversees the development of professional and amateur golf in Pakistan , which runs a domestic circuit of nearly 20 events and offering total prize money of approximately US$200,000 a year.

The Pakistan Open will be staged the week after the 2006 Asian Tour Qualifying School , meaning some of the game's rising stars who earn their playing privileges from the Qualifying will be in Karachi to display their talent, added Martin.


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