Golf: Mardan and Co. expect testing time at the World Classic Championship this week

Singapore top golfer Mardan Mamat will be competing at the World Classic Championship, taking place from Thursday to Sunday.
Singapore top golfer Mardan Mamat will be competing at the World Classic Championship, taking place from Thursday to Sunday.PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE - Golfers are gearing up for a tough challenge at the inaugural World Classic Championship at the Laguna National Golf and Country Club from Thursday to Sunday.

The US$750,000 (S$1.07 million) event is sanctioned by the Asian Tour, and will see 144 players from over 23 countries compete for the winner's cheque of US$135,000.

Singapore's top golfer Mardan Mamat is looking to replicate his success at the same venue where he won the Singapore Masters in 2006. But this time, he admitted that the demanding World Classic course is a harder challenge for him to tackle than Laguna's other 18-hole course, the Masters.

The 48-year-old, who won his fifth Asian Tour title in Bangladesh earlier this year, said: "(The) Masters is so much (more) forgiving for us to play. This golf course is not only (not) easy to play, but it's also difficult to walk."

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

He said: "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.

"Usually, the game plan (for the Masters) is to hit as much greens as possible but it doesn't work on this course. Chipping and putting are the most important (shots), and I have to be patient. Bunker shots are important too because there are a lot of bunkers here."

Among the star players in the field are Indian golfers 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.

Kumar said: "(Winning a title) is a big confidence boost for me. It's my first time playing here, 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."

chiazya@sph.com.sg