Pak­istan gets right back in the swing

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - SPORTS -

KARACHI — Birds were re­leased over fair­ways and cer­e­mo­nial drives were struck as in­ter­na­tional golf re­turned to Pak­istan af­ter an 11-year ab­sence.

A field of 132 play­ers from around the globe were tee­ing up in the Asian Tour’s UMA CNS Open Cham­pi­onship at Karachi Golf Club, the lat­est thaw­ing of re­la­tions with the mil­i­tant-plagued 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 said, brush­ing off any se­cu­rity con­cerns.

“This is the start­ing point for fu­ture years af­ter the suc­cess of this event.”

No ma­jor golf tour has vis­ited Pak­istan since 2007. The last sched­uled tour­na­ment, in 2008, was can­celed af­ter a wave of in­sur­gent at­tacks.

“It is al­ways good to be here as peo­ple are very lovely and friendly,” said Aus­tralian golfer Mar­cus Both. “I came here 10 years ago. The per­cep­tion is bad but in re­al­ity it is very dif­fer­ent.”

The 2009 at­tack on Sri Lanka’s bus in La­hore, in which eight peo­ple were killed, caused all sport­ing vis­its to be sus­pended.

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