SABAH - When closest rival Danny Chia missed a three-foot putt on the 12th hole, Mardan Mamat knew victory was in the bag.
The Singaporean had actually set off for the 13th tee box when the Malaysian was lining up his putt, believing Chia would not miss.
Suddenly, Mardan heard the gallery gasp in despair.
He was surprised and knew that he had beaten off the challenge of the gutsy Chia with a three-shot lead and six holes remaining.
Mardan played safe after that for a three-under 68, cruising his way to a four-shot win at the US$100,000 ($132,000) Sabah Masters at the Sutera Harbour Golf and Country Club.
It was a masterful showing by the 47-year-old Mardan, who picked up a US$16,675 ($22,000) cheque for his wire-to-wire victory.
Mardan totalled 10-under 274 to finish ahead of Chia (67) and roommate Arie Irawan (68).
Starting the final round with a four-shot cushion, Mardan came under immediate pressure from Chia, who rode a hot putter with six birdies through 11 holes, to halve the deficit.
But Chia failed to narrow the gap further when he missed the three-foot birdie putt on the 12th after Mardan had converted a five-footer of his own.
And the writing was on the wall when the Malaysian No. 1 suffered another unlucky break when he two-putted for bogey at the following hole.
Similarly, Irawan's putting woes returned to haunt him after an inspired start as he fired blanks on the back nine to settle for a share of second on 278.
Said Mardan, who had four birdies and a lone bogey: "I've come close a number of times at the Sabah Masters in the past and failed to finish it off, so to finally get my hands on this trophy means a lot to me.
"It is nice to start off my 2015 season on a winning not, and to be pushed all the way to the end for this win makes it all the more satisfying.
"I have to admit that Danny got off to a hot start and I had to resolutely defend my advantage.
"I knew that I had to shoot something like three to four-under today if I was going to be up here.
"Like I've been saying all week, draining birdies was going to be crucial today and I'm very pleased with my performance.
"I struck the ball with a lot of conviction and my course management was excellent."
I've come close a number of times at the Sabah Masters... so to finally get my hands on this trophy means a lot to me.
274: Mardan Mamat 69-66-71-68
278: Danny Chia 73-71-67-67, Arie Irawan 71-66-73-68
279: Ben Leong 74-69-69-67
281: Sutijet Kooratanpisan 69-73-72-67
282: Masaru Takahashi 73-66-73-70, Jay Bayron 72-67-73-70
283: Antonio Lascuna 75-71-68-69
285: Mitchell Slorach 73-71-72-69
294: Koh Dengshan 75-66-77-76.
This article was first published on Jan 18, 2015.
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