Golf: Mardan shoots Classic 67

Golf: Mardan shoots Classic 67
Mardan Mamat (right) receiving the winner's cheque from tournament sponsor Par72 LLP chairman Mahmud Hassan (centre) and Brad Leahey, general manager of Laguna National Golf & Country Club.

Under steamy conditions it is a feat so difficult that Singapore Professional Golfers Association (SPGA) president, M Murugiah, likened it to Singapore beating England in football.

He was exaggerating, of course, but Mardan Mamat's final-day score of 67 at the Laguna National's World Classic course was no walk in the park.

The Singapore No. 1 recorded the score on "Asia's toughest test" in the final round of the PAR 72 LLP Laguna National-SPGA Golf Series yesterday to win the tournament with an 11-under 203 total, six shots ahead of Zaw Moe.

The Singapore No. 1 entered the final round with a three-shot lead over the chasing pack, achieved over the first two days at Laguna's Masters course.

His 67 is considered a course best, and not the record, as the World Classic - renowned for its difficult bunkers and unusual terrain - is temporarily a par-70 due to club renovations.

Unho Park holds the record of four-under 68.

"It's never easy to play on (the World Classic) course," Mardan said. "But the past two days I've been striking the ball so well. All my irons were to the flag and I've been holding angle on my putts. So my confidence was high.

"Key for me was that I've been constantly playing the past four weeks. I've had good momentum from that."

Mardan's stellar form bodes well for Singapore as he will spearhead the Republic's challenge against Malaysia in the Prudential Causeway Trophy at the same course in June.

The Ryder Cup-style tournament, scheduled from June 6 to 8, is heading into its second year here.

Last year's competition saw Singapore ease to victory by a seven-point margin (15½-8½), but Mardan warns that odds are "50-50" this time around.

"Just like last year, we are not the favourites," he said.

"It's a fact that the Malaysian players have their own Tour and play more golf. That gives them the edge. But our strength is teamwork. We understand each other well and we also know the course better than Malaysia."

At a press conference at Laguna yesterday, both teams unveiled their captains and 12-man line-up.

Singapore have made two changes from last year. Justin Han and Goh Kun Yang replace Mitchell Slorach and Vincent Khua.

Singapore's non-playing captain, Mohd Said, said: "Our success last year means there is a lot of pressure for us to keep our champion status.

"We have an excellent team teeing off once again and with our home advantage, we are easily up to the challenge."

As a means of expanding the tournament, this year's edition will see the addition of the Prudential Junior (Under-16) Causeway Trophy on June 4.

This article was published on April 3 in The New Paper.

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