Mardan pins hopes on local insights

He won the MST Golf Classic less than two months ago at Laguna National Golf and Country Club.

But Mardan Mamat is not expecting a stroll at this week's inaugural World Classic Championship, which will also take place on Laguna's World Classic course.

For a start, he is expecting the 7,350-yard layout, designed and built by Dye Designs, to bare its teeth again like it did in the first round of the MST Golf Classic, when no golfer broke par.

It is officially touted as Asia's Toughest Test according to the globally recognised Slope/Course Rating System administered by the United States Golf Association, which compares the relative difficulties across all golf courses.

Mardan, who won the Singapore Masters in 2006 at Laguna's other 18-hole course, the Masters, said: "(The) Masters is so much (more) forgiving for us to play."

He noted that the World Classic course is "not only not easy to play but it's also difficult to walk".

The 48-year-old Singaporean is not helped by a right shoulder injury which he hopes will not flare up and hamper his efforts to lift his second Asian Tour title of the year.

He had won his fifth Asian Tour title in Bangladesh earlier this year.

Still, he is hoping local knowledge will play to his advantage, noting: "You've got to know the pin positions well.

"Even if you manage to hit a good shot onto the greens, you might not even be rewarded."

He added: "So, hopefully, things go my way and I can be up there during the weekend. You can never tell on this course."

Sanctioned by the Asian Tour, the World Classic Championship dangles a prize pot of US$750,000 (S$1.07 million).

It will see 144 players from over 23 countries compete for the winner's cheque of US$135,000.

The field will feature no fewer than 35 Asian Tour winners, including four Order of Merit champions.

They include Indians S.S.P. Chawrasia, ranked fourth in the Order of Merit, and Chiragh Kumar, who is fresh from winning his maiden Tour title last week at the Panasonic Open India in New Delhi.

Kumar, who will be teeing off for the first time in Singapore, is expecting a tough time.

He said: "It's my first time and it's a tough and demanding golf course.

"You can be playing well and hit good shots but not end up in the right place.

"You need to plan and know where to hit the shots."

Thai youngster Atiwit Janewattananond, 20, believes that patience will be the key to achieving success this week.

Comparing the Masters course to the World Classic one, he said: "The Masters is a normal course in Asia, it's got flat greens. But, here, you have to be patient. The hilly greens make it a lot harder.

"I've been preparing a lot because I heard the course will be really tough but I didn't expect it to be this hard."

This article was first published on Nov 11.
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