LAHORE: The 39th Punjab Open Golf Championship moved into the final phase at the alluring PAF Skyview Golf Course in Lahore here on Saturday. Defending champion Matloob Ahmed of Garrison Golf Club continued to excel and emerged as the sole leader yesterday. At the start of the second round of 18 holes, he was bunched together with Mohammad Munir and Mohammad Talib at the top. But after the conclusion of the second round, Matloob stood out as the superb one. His aggregate score for the two rounds was 138, six under par and though this achievement his marginal advantage over his nearest two rivals was barely of one stroke. While Matloob is placed at a score of gross 138, the two challengers Munir (Rawalpindi) and Suleman Akhtar (Lahore Gymkhana) were placed at a score of gross 139, five under par. In the second round, Matloob was relentless in his march to success and excelled in all aspects of the game and by virtue of this consistent effort ended up as the dominant one. His score for the second round was gross 70 and aggregate for two rounds added up to 136, six under par. As for Munir, his second round effort was steady and enabled him to appear as a strong contender in the final round. Certainly the golfing battle between him and Matloob will be worth watching. Another pleasant performance of the day came from young Suleman. He displayed champion like capabilities by shooting approach shots to perfection and putting in a nerve free mode. His round for the day was simply brilliant. He had a round of 64, an amazing eight under par and made up for his slackness in the first round when he scored a modest 75. Overall, he had an aggregate score of 139, five under par and placed him amongst giants of the game like Matloob and Munir.Another competitor who oozed with excellence was Talat Ijaz of Lahore Gymkhana. His two under par round of 70 places him in the fourth position on the leaderboard and his aggregate score after two rounds was 141, three under par. Out of the other established combatants, Mohammad Shahzad of Garrison Club was placed at score of 142, followed by Ahmed Baig at 143 and another promising youngster Zohaib Asif of DHA Karachi at 143. Interestingly, the star of golf circuit of Pakistan, Shabbir Iqbal, was placed at a similar score. The cut was made at the end of the second round and only 41 professionals will play on the final day (today) while 45 stood weeded out. In the race for honours amongst amateurs, the outstanding one was Salman Jehangir of Lahore Gymkhana. He displayed good form and with two rounds scores of 70 and 75 and an aggregate of 145 he occupied first position in the amateur section. His nearest challenger was Qasim Ali Khan, also of Lahore Gymkhana, and lagged behind Salman by a margin of four strokes. His aggregate score was 149. Rustam Chatta was at a score of 154.