Baig flying the flag for Pakistan at International Series Morocco

Up-and-coming Pakistan golfer Ahmad Baig admits his “dream has come true” as he prepares to face up to some world-class talent at International Series Morocco this week.

Baig received a tournament invite to the Royal Dar Es Salam in Rabat after a stellar season so far on the Asian Development Tour. The 26-year-old leads the current Order of Merit thanks to two tournament wins in Vietnam, the season-opening Lexus Challenge in March and the Nam A Bank Vietnam Masters last month.

Baig only took up the game 10 years ago, and he is pinching himself at the prospect of lining up in a field that includes nine LIV Golf League players and the cream of the Asian Tour.

He said: “My dream is to play on the Asian Tour, and today it feels like my dreams have come true, because I am playing, and this is my first time playing on The International Series. I feel extremely excited to be playing and competing against these big names

This is Baig’s second Asian Tour appearance of the season, and he hopes to go one better after narrowly missing out on the cut in the Saudi Open presented by PIF. On that occasion he fell agonisingly short, as a bogey on his last cost him a place on the weekend.

He said: “That was very painful. I played well but sadly on the last I managed to bogey from 20 yards – I just overhit a chip and then could not close out. Hopefully I have learned from my mistakes.”

Baig is always eager to learn, from his experience and from those around him. He has a wonderful opportunity to gain experience against some top names this weekend.

The assembled field includes stars such as 2010 US Open champion Graeme McDowell of Smash GC, South African’s Branden Grace (Stinger GC) and the American trio of Pat Perez (4Aces GC), Peter Uihlein (RangeGoats GC) and Caleb Surratt (Legion XIII), as well as in-form Asian Tour Order of Merit leader John Catlin, and multiple Asian Tour winners Gaganjeet Bhullar, Scott Hend and defending champion Jazz Janewattananond.

He said: “I am always trying to learn from them because they are the best player in the world. So any time these players are at the range or working on their short game, or putting, of course I will take the opportunity to watch and learn. I am also excited to compete against these big names.”

Pakistan may not be known as a hotbed of golfing talent, but Baig took to the game immediately after being introduced to it by his brother, who worked at the Lahore Garrison Greens Golf Club.

Now a member of the Royal Palm Golf Club in Lahore, he is reaping the rewards of all those hours of practice.

With a swing speed of 124, a driving average of 310 to 315 yards and two wins under his belt, he is on track to live the dream by graduating from the ADT to full Asian Tour status next season.

But this season, he’s delighted to gain invaluable experience, and he’s one of a number of players from the MENA region who are getting the chance to take on the heavyweights of the Asian Tour and the LIV Golf League thanks to the pathway that The International Series provides for promising talent, whether amateur or pro, at events over the course of the season.

So how does he feel going into this week’s event on a testing Red Course? He said: “I have never played here before and we do not have courses like this in Pakistan. It is a challenging course, the greens have a lot of slopes and this is a long course compared to what I am used to in Pakistan. It is a wonderful challenge.

“The past two years on the Asian Development Tour have been about progress and I have learned many things. I practice a lot and I have mentally prepared myself better for tournaments.

“I have a different approach now and that is why I feel confident this year. I have always played aggressive but now I know to adapt the conditions and use common sense – depending on what the play is. I am learning, and I am looking forward to a great week.”