Mardan is a champ again
What a difference two weeks make.
A fortnight ago, after missing the cut at the Panasonic Indian Open in New Delhi, Mardan Mamat telephoned his wife Naz and said: "I'm giving up golf."
Frustrated at his game, disappointed with several missed cuts - many by just one stroke - he looked back on a disastrous season that won him only about US$25,000 on the Asian Tour and suffered from despondency.
It was the lowest point for the Singapore No. 1 golfer, for whom it was the worst season in a 20-year professional career.
Adding to his woes was the failure to get flights out of New Delhi and other venues on those black Fridays, which drained his pockets further.
After a long chat, he found comfort in Naz's encouragement and decided that he would at least complete the season and see what comes.
In Chiangmai last week, he made the cut, won some money.
Yesterday, at the US$1 million Resorts World Manila Masters he finished as a deserving champion, winning US$180,000 ($234,000).
And a true and popular winner he was, whipping the varied opposition with a massive six-shot victory - his fourth triumph on the Asian Tour.
After he sank the final putt at the Manila Southwoods Golf and Country Club, he raised his right arm, fell to his knees and kissed the ground to vociferous cheers.
Then the emotions got the better of him, and he was lost for words at the greenside television interview.
He teared, sobbed and was completely overwhelmed with joy and mumbled: "I thank my mum, my wife and all my fans who prayed for me."
The 47-year-old veteran completed a stylish wire-to wire victory with a final-round, three-under 69 for a 20-under 268 total.
Frenchman Lionel Weber closed with 70 to finish runner-up, while flightmate and Asian Tour No. 1 Kiradech Aphibarnrat's initial challenge withered with a 75 as Mardan remained composed and calm throughout the round.
Entering the week in 74th place on the Order of Merit, Mardan now moves up 60 spots to 14, and can keep his Asian Tour card.
After receiving the winner's trophy, he said: "The victory means a lot to me. This is my last year of exemption (after winning the 2012 Philippine Open) and I needed to play well to keep my card.
"I wanted to win again to keep my exemption for the next few years. When I was on the range, the wind was pretty strong and I knew the scores won't be low.
"I couldn't control anyone, only myself and I focused on my own game.
"Playing with Kiradech, who hits it long, I knew I needed to keep to my own pace, keep to my own strength and it worked out.
"Walking up the 18th hole, I only felt comfortable after hitting the second shot."
Mardan, who bagged five birdies and slumped with two bogeys, added: "I made a mistake with my three-wood on the 10th hole and on 13, I just misread the line a little bit. I didn't give it enough allowance on the putt and I missed it. I stayed patient and I told myself that I was still there, I was still there."
Kiradech, who sliced the lead once from six to four, said: "It didn't go as I planned. I was just trying to attack the pin and play more aggressively so I can catch Mardan. The double (bogey) on four was a big turning point and I couldn't get my mind back."
268: Mardan Mamat 65-68-66-69
274: Lionel Weber 70-70-64-70
276: Prom Meesawat 73-72-63-68
278: Sam Brazel 67-75-67-69, Hung Chien-yao 67-71-69-71, Paul Peterson 68-70-69-71, Kiradech Aphibarnrat 66-69-68-75
279: Nicholas Fung 69-69-68-73
280: Thaworn Wiratchant 75-70-68-67, Akinori Tani 72-69-70-69, Scott Hend 73-69-69-69, Wang Jeung Hun 68-65-77-70, Chiragh Kumar 72-71-67-70, Thitiphun Chuayprakong 71-68-70-71, Arie Irawan 71-71-67-71, Danny Chia 66-71-71-72, Daisuke Kataoka 65-73-70-72, Jbe Kruger 70-73-64-73, Berry Henson 74-68-64-74.
283: Scott Barr 71-69-72-71
284: Unho Park 70-72-71-71
286: Lam Chih Bing 72-73-68-73