KARACHI: Earlier this year, Ahmed Baig emerged as Pakistan golf’s biggest hope. On Thursday here at the Karachi Golf Club, he showed why.The young amateur from Lahore shared the lead with Thailand’s Namchok Tantipokhakul after firing a sensational round of five-under par 67 on the opening day of the US$300,000 UMA-CNS Open Asian Tour Championship.On a day when many seasoned professionals were let down by their putter, Ahmed was in commanding form on the greens sinking a flurry of birdies. One of the four leading national amateurs featuring in what is Pakistan’s biggest golfing spectacle in 11 years, Ahmed totalled 25 putts for the round, including five one-putts for birdie.“This is my first Asian Tour event. I’m very happy about my round, especially the front nine (holes 10 to 18), where I made four straight birdies. I’m pleased with my putting today as I made five one-putts for birdies,” said Ahmed. “I’m based in Lahore, but I play here in Karachi Golf Club for some tournaments. The pressure mounted on my 14th hole when I had the share of the lead, but I’ve been in this situation before. I won one month ago, the Sindh Open, on this course. I’ll just play my best tomorrow and aim to shoot four or five under par.”Just one shot off the pace was Pakistan’s Shabbir Iqbal, who carded four-under par 68. He is tied for the third place on the leaderboard with Thailand’s Pawin Ingkhapradit, Philippines’ James Ryan Lam, and Honey Baisoya of India.The 31-year-old Namchok may have hit only six out of 14 fairways, but his accurate recovery shots gave him plenty of chances for birdies. The two-time Asian Development Tour (ADT) winner traded eight birdies against three bogeys to end his day on top of the leaderboard. “I putted well today, which saved the round. I missed all my fairways on the front nine but made only two bogeys. In the back nine, I managed to keep my drives on the fairway,” he said.Shabbir continued his good run of form at the Karachi Golf Club as carded 68. The 41-year-old, who won the local edition of the tournament last week, missed only one green in regulation and dropped just a single shot in the opening round.“I’m feeling great at the moment. I hit the ball solidly and putted well. Almost every drive landed in the fairway. I’m very confident with my iron shots and most of them were very straight today. The only fairway I missed (the ninth), I bogeyed the hole. 68 is a good score,” he said. Just two shots off the pace were the local trio of Shahid Javed Khan, Muhammad Munir and Sunny Masih along with a Thai duo.At one point in time Shahid was threatening to become the sole leader as he was -5 till the 15th hole. But he ended the round with 69. Other Pakistanis placed prominently on the leaderboard included Imdad Hussain, Dilshad Ali, Talib Hussain, Taimoor Khan and Muhammad Naeem.Scores after round 1 of the UMA CNS Open Golf Championship being played at the par 72, 7032 Yards Karachi GC course (am – denotes amateur):67 – Namchok Tantipokhakul (THA), Ahmad Baig (PAK).68 – Pawin Ingkhapradit (THA), Muhammad Shabbir (PAK), James Ryan Lam (PHI), Honey Baisoya (IND).69 – Suradit Yongcharoenchai (THA), Muhammad Munir (PAK), Jakraphan Premsirigorn (THA), Sunny Masih (PAK), Shahid Javed (PAK).70 – Nirun Sae-ueng (THA), Dilshad Ali (PAK), Imdad Hussain (PAK), Matt Killen (ENG), KOH Deng Shan (SIN). 71 – Suttijet Kooratanapisan (THA), Talib Hussain (PAK), Amandeep Singh Johl (IND), Taimoor Khan (am, PAK), Piya Swangarunporn (THA), Javier Gallegos (ESP), Tirawat Kaewsiribandit (THA), Siddikur Rahman (BD), Marcus BOTH (AUS), Muhammad Naeem (PAK).72 – Christopher Baumgartner (AUT), Manuel Trappel (AUT), Kamran Shafiq (PAK), Waheed Baloch (PAK), Christoffer Baumann (SWE), Settee Prakongvech (THA), Digvijay Singh (IND), Ashir Masih (PAK), Nisar Hussain (PAK), Chirat Jirasuwan (THA), Niall Turner (IRL), Matloob Ahmed (PAK), Mitchell Slorach (SIN), Amjad Yousaf (PAK), M. Dharma (IND), Moazzam Siddique (PAK).