Bangladesh's premier golfer Siddikur Rahman has said that his not playing in the Myanmar Open was as much due to playing in his home event as it was in protest of the Rohingya crisis. The two-time Asian Tour winner, who forewent taking part in the 750,000-dollar Asian Tour event in Myanmar starting on Thursday, opted to play in the City Bank American Express Dhaka Open, tri-sanctioned by the Asian Development Tour, Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI) and Professional Golfers' Tour of Bangladesh, which got underway in Dhaka yesterday.
“I could have played there [in Myanmar] as you know it's a big event with much higher prizemoney. But I chose not as a protest to the Rohingya issue. I skipped the event last year as well,” Siddikur said while addressing media at a press conference after having ended the first day in second position with a four-under-par (68), just one stroke behind the leader and close friend Shakhawat Hossain Sohel.
“Playing at the home course and representing the country at home, however, is always a matter of honour. It is a great opportunity to show myself to the countrymen and the local media. I'm looking forward to a great competition,” said the 33-yer-old, who had won both the last ADT and PGTI events held in Bangladesh.
The ace golfer, Bangladesh's only regular representative at the Asian Tour and European Tour, was however less than ecstatic with his day's work.
“I would not say it was an excellent round of golf. It was an okay day for me. I hit the ball very well. I was able to hit it close but I missed a lot of putts out there. If my putting improves over the next few days, I should be able to put up a good result this week,” said Siddikur, who carded five birdies against a single bogey at the Kurmitola Golf Club course.
Sohel, meanwhile, had an even better day than Siddikur as he exchanged seven birdies for two bogeys to grab the clubhouse lead at five-under-par (67).
“I am pleased with how I played. I had a good round. I told myself to just play against the course and not other players. I hope to get the season off to a good start by claiming a good result this week,” said the 33-year-old, who was the best performing local in the first two editions of the Bashundhara Bangladesh Open but failed to make the cut last year.
The Kurmitola golfer, who is yet to break his title duck in both PGTI and ADT, believed that local golfers will have the best chance of winning the title of the 50-lac-taka event.
His belief was reflected on the leaderboard as five of the top ten places were occupied by the locals. Mohammad Sayum was in third position at three-under-par while Akbar Hossain and Mohammad Ismail occupied the fifth and eighth positions respectively.