For Mohammad Shahab Uddin, the importance of a strong performance at this week’s fifth edition of the Faldo Series Bangladesh Championship cannot be over-stated.
Edged out at the first hole of a nail-biting sudden-death play-off last year, Shahab is determined to set the record straight when he tees-off at Kurmitola Golf Club in the ninth leg of the 2018-19 Faldo Series Asia season.
Just two weeks shy of his 21st birthday, Shahab is aware that this tournament represents one of his final opportunities to stamp his mark as a junior and claim an overdue maiden triumph.
“I haven’t been able to win a title yet, but I have finished second on at least 10 or 12 events out of the 20 I have played so far,” said Shahab, who took up the game seven years ago at Bhatiary Golf & Country Club in Chittagong, a major coastal city and financial centre in south-eastern Bangladesh.
It is one of only 11 courses in Bangladesh where the golfing population is estimated at less than 10,000. Of the handful of professionals, the best known is Mohd Siddikur, a winner on the Asian Tour.
Having represented his country at this year’s Asian Games in Indonesia and the Asia Pacific Amateur Championship in Singapore, Shahab is hoping to soon join Siddikur among the ranks of the professionals.
No-one could accuse him of lacking ambition. Asked recently about his golfing goal, Shahab said: “To play on the European Tour.”
More pressingly, Shahab is focusing his attentions on securing a place in the 13th Faldo Series Asia Grand Final, to be hosted by Sir Nick Faldo at Laguna Lăng Cô in Danang, Central Vietnam, in March, 2019 – the prize on offer to all age group winners in the 54-hole event at Kurmitola.
Shahab’s prospects will not be harmed by the fact that Shomrat Shikder, his conqueror in extra-time a year ago, is no longer eligible to compete, having already turned 21.
In the event that he does qualify, Shahab would aim to improve on the fourth-place finish by Mohd Rasel in the 11th Faldo Series Asia Grand Final that set a new benchmark for Bangladeshi junior golfers.
Six-time Major champion Faldo, Britain’s most successful golfer, said: “We’ve had some encouraging showings from Bangladesh players at the last couple of Faldo Series Asia Grand Finals.
“Clearly, the quality of play among the leading juniors and amateurs in the country is improving quickly and I’m delighted if the Faldo Series can continue contributing to that healthy trend.”
The 2018-19 Faldo Series Asia season is supported by The R&A and endorsed by the Asian Tour and the Asia Pacific Golf Confederation. The International Junior Golf Academy is a partner of the Faldo Series.
As well as two events in China, India and Thailand, championships are being staged in Australia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Chinese-Taipei, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Nepal, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam.
Recognised as the only global amateur series for boys and girls, the Faldo Series was established in 1996, expanding to Asia in 2006.