Mardan takes it easy and seizes lead

Mardan Mamat has a two-shot lead after the first round of the Singapore Pro Series Invitational at Tanah Merah Country Club yesterday.
Mardan Mamat has a two-shot lead after the first round of the Singapore Pro Series Invitational at Tanah Merah Country Club yesterday.ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

Playing competitive golf while fasting is par for the course for Mardan Mamat.

The devout Muslim, who turned pro in 1994, has done it for years even during his amateur days during the Ramadan period.

Still, it was the talking point yesterday after the 53-year-old veteran took a two-shot lead in the second leg of the Fintech Alliance Global-sponsored Singapore Pro Series Invitational under sultry conditions at Tanah Merah Country Club's Tampines course.

But for Mardan, who, won a regional event on the Asean Tour, the Mercedes-Benz Masters Malaysia in Kota Permai in 2010, it was nothing special.

"I have been doing this for years, so it's a matter of getting used to it. The secret is to take it easy and pace yourself. No doubt, you feel a little tired during the closing stages."

Keeping a calm and steady momentum despite two early bogeys (second and third holes), Mardan cancelled out the deficit with two birdies (ninth and 18th) to return an even-par 72.

"Mistakes cost me with the bogeys," he said.

"On the second, I drove into a fairway bunker and had to chip out, while in the next hole, I took the wrong club (five-iron from 160 yards against the wind) and hit past the green. But I am glad that I managed to bounce back with good reads for birdies on fast greens (11.5 green speed).

"On the par-four ninth, I hit a good drive and sank the putt from six feet. And on the par-five 18th, I brought the curtains down with a 30-foot winding putt."

Mardan, who looks trim after strict gym work, leads Mitchell Slorach by two shots and is three ahead of Gregory Foo going into today's final round.

On a windy day, 18 players made the cut set at 12-over 84. Among them were national amateurs Hiroshi Tai (77), Ryan Ang (79), Nathen Tan (83), Inez Ng and Jen Goh (both 84), and women professionals Amanda Tan (77) and Koh Sock Hwee (81).

The eight-leg series sees 18 Singapore professionals and six local amateurs competing over two days (36 holes) for the $10,600 prize in each leg.

Each event will count towards the Race to FTAG Cup, where the winner of the Order of Merit will receive a bonus of $10,000.

Choo Tze Huang claimed the first leg in March. He is currently in Tokyo serving a two-week quarantine before playing in 11 events on the Japan Challenge Tour over six months.

The Singapore Pro Series Invitational concludes in January.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 04, 2021, with the headline 'Mardan takes it easy and seizes lead'. Subscribe