Happy birthday Naz

Happy birthday Naz
Mardan plays a shot during the final round of the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open.

Over the last 10 years, Singapore's No. 1 golfer Mardan Mamat has enjoyed the high of winning on the European Tour and qualifying on three occasions for the British Open.

Last year was a low period, though, after he (above) made just five cuts in his first 15 tournaments, which left him on the brink of losing his Asian Tour card, and contemplating his future.

Through it all, there was one constant - the unwavering support of Naz, his wife of 10 years.

So, it was no surprise when Mardan paid tribute to Naz, who had travelled with him, after he finished third in the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open, an event sanctioned by the Asian, European and Sunshine Tours.

The 47-year-old posted a 4-under 67 in the final round to finish just one off the joint-leaders in regulation, South Africa's George Coetzee and Thorbjorn Olesen of Denmark.

Coetzee went on to beat Olesen in a play-off with a birdie at the second extra hole.

Mardan's 12-under total of 272 saw him pocket a handsome cheque of US$70,069 ($93,000), and speaking to The New Paper after the successful week, he said: "Naz has played a big role in my career.

Sometimes when you are down, you need encouragement, and she has given me that and so much more.

"Early in the morning, I wished her Happy Mother's Day. She said thanks and I got a kiss!

"We had a nice holiday here in Mauritius before the tournament and it will also be her birthday on May 12, but I can't tell you now what present I have for her."

Naz's presence obviously helped as Mardan overcame a bogey at the fourth hole with birdies on the fifth, sixth, seventh, 16th and 18th - the Singaporean birdied the 18th in all four rounds - yesterday.

"I'm very pleased with this week. Before I came here, I was practising at home and was striking it well and was hoping for a good result, and I did it," said Mardan.

His upbeat mood was poles apart from his reaction after missing the cut at the Panasonic Indian Open in New Delhi last year, when he telephoned his wife and said: "I'm giving up golf."

Naz talked him out of retirement, and it duly kicked off six straight strong performances, including victory at the Resorts World Manila Masters, his fourth win on the Asian Tour, which earned him US$180,000.

His good form has carried over into 2015, with four cuts from six tournaments, and this latest result has bumped him up to 16th on the Asian Tour Order of Merit with US$84,269 in earnings.

Mardan's next destination is the Bashundhara Bangladesh Open, an Asian Tour event worth US$300,000.

"It's good to start strong, it's also important to end the season well," he added.

"Overall, I'm swinging better, getting back my confidence, and I feel like I'm reaching top form again."

LEADING FINAL SCORES:

271: George Coetzee 70-67-65-69, Thorbjorn Olesen 65-68-70-68 (Coetzee wins on the second play-off hole)

272: Mardan Mamat 69-69-67-67

273: Thomas Aiken 69-66-68-70

274: Masahiro Kawamura 68-69-71-66, John Parry 67-70-71-66, Scott Hend 72-66-70-66

276: Bernd Ritthammer 71-70-68-67, Oliver Bekker 66-71-71-68, Merrick Bremner 71-70-66-69.

davidlee@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on May 11, 2015.
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