Sunday, February 12, 2012


Manila, February 12: An emotional Mardan Mamat of Singapore coasted to a comfortable five-stroke victory at the ICTSI Philippine Open to end a six-year winless run on Sunday.
The 44-year-old picked up his third Asian Tour victory with a closing one-under-par 71 at the Wack Wack Golf and Country Club’s East course to complete a commanding wire-to-wire victory with an eight-under-par 280 aggregate.
Mo Joong-kyung of Korea threatened briefly before finishing a distant second in the US$300,000 Asian Tour event, signing off with a 74 while top Filipino honours went to Antonio Lascuna who returned a 69 for tied third place with Japan’s Azuma Yano, who signed for a 70.
However, it was heartbreak hotel for Filipino teenager Miguel Tabuena, who started the final round one shot back of Mardan but faded badly with an 81 to settle for a share of 11th position.
After tapping in for his lone bogey on 18, Mardan fell on his knees to celebrate his return into the winner’s enclosure. He later broke in tears when asked if thoughts of not winning had crept into his mind during his barren years.
“My wife (Naz) encouraged and pushed me a lot to practice. She said you love the game so much and why must you quit. There was a time when I said it was time for me to be a golf coach but she said not in your dreams,” said a teary-eyed Mardan.
“It feels great. It’s always good to win a tournament, especially the oldest national Open in Asia. I didn’t do any stupid mistakes and kept my ball in play all the time. The whole week I’m very patient and hit the ball good,” added the Singaporean, who pocketed the top cheque of US$47,550, an OMEGA Seamaster Aqua Terra Golf watch and a BlackBerry smartphone.
With his closest challengers Mo and Tabuena starting poorly, a rock solid Mardan raced three shots clear with a birdie on the fourth hole and by the time he turned in 35, the veteran was six shots clear of the pack. The back nine was a procession as he waltzed to victory.
“After the eighth hole, I was quite relieved. That hole, you can pick up a big number and I managed to get a par. It may have looked easy but it wasn’t easy. There was pressure, especially at the start of the round.
“All the good memories from winning the Singapore Masters (in 2006) came back. When I won then, I led from the first day to the end. That gave me a lot of memories which boosted my confidence,” said Mardan, who also earned a spot in next week’s co-sanctioned Avantha Masters in India.
Mo endured a horrendous opening seven holes, going five over par in seven holes before rallying briefly with four birdies in mid-round to pull to within four shots of Mardan. But the Singaporean tightened his grip with a second birdie of the day on the 14th hole to restore his six shots advantage as Mo bogeyed the same hole.
Chasing a third Asian Tour victory, the Korean rued two poor tee shots which led to his double bogeys on three and seven. “I just hit two bad shots, that was it,” said the Korean. “That can happen on this course. I hit two poor tee shots and made those doubles. The way Mardan was playing, I wasn’t going to catch him. I was just focused on finishing second,” said Mo.
Lascuna finished as top Filipino after a solid round that included four birdies in his outward nine. “I’m super happy to shoot three under. Before teeing off, I had a good feeling. I hit my drives good and I felt I could get it to two or three under. When I saw Mardan standing at eight under, I just focused on finishing second or third. I played with Mardan yesterday and he putted so good. He’s also strong mentally,” said Lascuna.
It was a nightmarish final day for the 17-year-old Tabuena, who was hoping to become the youngest winner of the ICTSI Philippine Open. He turned in 39 with five bogeys against two birdies and his hopes all but vanished with a triple bogey on the 10th following an errant drive into the woods.
“After bogeying the first, my confidence went. I was aiming for fairways and greens but it didn’t happen. I’ll learn from this,” said Tabuena.
+SCOTWATCH: James Byrne finished last of all those who made the cut. He had a final round of 79 after failing to break 80 in rounds two and three. His final aggregate was 311 - 23 over par.
And yet the tournament had started well for the Banchory man with a two-under-par 70. What went wrong? James told
"It was a demanding golf course and I didn't play well at all. Simple as that!"

Par 288 (4x72) Yardage: 7,222. Wack Wack GcC course
280 Mardan MAMAT (SIN) 69-70-70-71.
285 MO Joong-kyung (SKOR) 72-71-68-74.
287 - Antonio LASCUNA (PHI) 71-71-76-69, Azuma YANO (JPN) 69-75-73-70.
288 - Ben FOX (USA) 69-73-74-72.
289 - Adam BLYTH (AUS) 73-70-75-71, Paul DONAHOO (AUS) 71-72-74-72.
290 - Arnond VONGVANIJ (THA) 73-72-74-71, KIM Gi-whan (SKOR) 71-75-72-72, HWANG Inn-choon (SKOR) 77-72-67-74.

295 Stephen Lewton (England) 77 73 75 70 (T29).
302 Guy Woodman (England) 73 72 73 79 (T62)
311 James Byrne (Scotland) 70 80 82 79 (78th).



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