Mardan wins Cup, earns $8.5k

It had all the makings of a frantic finale. Singapore's No. 1 golfer Mardan Mamat coming from four strokes down to win the tournament with overnight leader Quincy Quek having to settle for second spot after a disappointing third round.

That Singapore's top golfers were competing in the Goodpack SPGA President Cup, whose prize purse was just $70,000, mattered little.

For them, it was the biggest tournament on local soil this year.

This, after the US$6 million (S$7.5 million) Singapore Open was put on hiatus till early next year.

Singapore Open officials were unable to find a title sponsor to replace British bank Barclays, which chose not to extend its seven-year deal that ended last year.

Similarly, the $400,000 Asian Tour-sanctioned ISPS Handa Singapore Classic was also not extended at the end of its three-year contract last year, owing to a lack of sponsors.

Said Mardan, who took home the President Cup and $8,550 after three days at the Warren Golf and Country Club:

"Of course, I'm disappointed that there are no big competitions in Singapore this year. Many of us look forward to playing in the Singapore Open every year.

"But, what can we do?"

The 46-year-old had a solid third round to thank for his victory. Starting the day in fifth place on 142, four strokes behind Quek, the 2006 Singapore Masters champion posted a two-under 69 to total 211 and grab the title by one shot.

His round included birdies at the second, eighth, 14th, 15th and 17th holes.

Said Mardan: "I hope the Singapore Open happens next year as promised.

"The President Cup is a good event for locals, but you can't really compare it to the Singapore Open."

Meanwhile, Singapore Professional Golfers' Association (SPGA) president M. Murugiah said his association can only focus on organising events on the domestic circuit, as the future of the Singapore Open remains shrouded in uncertainty.

He explained: "On our part, the SPGA will continue holding events for local golfers. That's why I am very thankful to Goodpack and Warren for supporting this year's President Cup.

"Many local golfers are very disappointed that the Singapore Open has gone on hiatus.

"It's not just about the prize money. For many players, doing well at such a big event could have a positive impact on their careers.

"It's also not very good for Singapore's reputation as a sports hub."

Quek, who closed with a three-over 74, said: "I don't know what the deal is with the Singapore Open, but I do hope that it happens next year.

"The last thing you want is for an event this big to go on a break for a few years."