Golf: Mardan back in the groove

SINGAPORE - A tweet on the Asian Tour website said that Mardan Mamat always does well in the Indian Open.

It appeared an hour after the Singaporean No. 1 pro moved to a six-way lead at the Hero Indian Open at the Delhi Golf Club on Thursday.

Mardan, who dropped to joint-third after an unfortunate bogey on the parthree 17th, propelled himself with a birdie on the last hole to take the perch on six-under 66.

Joining him were India's Rahil Gangjee, Bangladesh's M. Siddikur, Asian Tour rookie Carlos Pigem of Spain and Thai duo Pariya Junhasavasdikul and Chapchai Nirat.

The last-hole birdie was one of seven birdies for Mardan, who won the Indian Open in 2004.

He said: "I'm pleased with how I struck the ball from tee to green.

"I'm very fortunate to make some putts.

"I was very patient and I played it one shot at a time. That's the key to my good round.

"I rushed my shot on the 17th hole and my grip slipped, so I pulled my shot into the bunker. I hit a good shot out of the trap to about three feet but missed that.

"My season hasn't been good. It was okay earlier in the year but I've been struggling in the last four weeks.

"It's always nice to play in Delhi. This course suits me a lot because I'm not a long hitter. I just keep it straight and make sure I hole some putts."


The affable Singaporean, who celebrated his 46th birthday last Friday, added: "It is very good to be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Indian Open.

"During my pro-am on Wednesday, I saw my photo when I won in 2004 plastered on the wall at the hospitality tent.

It was nice to see the photo among all the other winners of the Indian Open. "That certainly gave me some motivation."

It was that motivation that helped Mardan to make some notable birdies.

He holed one from 20 feet from the greenside bunker on the sixth hole, made birdies on holes two and three from 10 feet, and hit a good drive to about eight feet on hole 10.

Shankar Das of India was seventh on 67 in the US$1.25 million ($1.45m) Asian Tour event.

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