Mardan finds his groove
Late eagle helps Singapore No. 1 finish joint-third on first day
He started with a bang. And ended with a bigger bang.
And if not for a middle stretch of four bogeys, Singapore's Mardan Mamat would have been sitting comfortably on perch.
Still the Republic's longtime No. 1 golfer was happy to take a three-under 69 and joint-third spot on the first day of the Mercuries Taiwan Masters in Tamsui.
Mardan trails Singapore-based Australian Scott Barr and Thailand's Panuphol Pittayarat by a shot and is tied with Thai veteran Chawalit Plaphol in the US$800,000 ($1.1 million) Asian Tour event.
Starting from the 10th tee, Mardan was four under after six holes, birdieing the 11th, 12th, 13th and 15th holes.
He bogeyed holes 17th and 18th to be two under at the turn. But further bogeys on the first and third holes saw his good work come to nought as he dropped to even par.
Above: Scott Barr.
But a brilliant birdie on the fifth and the excellent eagle - a chip-in from 27 metres - on the seventh put him back into contention.
Said Mardan, 48: "Anything under par on this golf course is good. I built some confidence with a good start. I was disappointed to bogey 17 and 18.
"I eagled hole seven and that was good. I knew I had to make a few birdies before reaching the ninth hole which is a very difficult hole. That eagle gave me some confidence and I made par on my last hole.
"My season has not been great. I need to play some good golf towards the end of the season to keep my Tour card. I want to get some confidence back and trust myself. This is a good week to regain my confidence."
After missing seven consecutive cuts earlier in the year, Barr took time off from the game and has enjoyed some good results including a tied-third place finish in Chinese Taipei in July.
"I had a poor start in the year but things are starting to pick up midway through the season. I took some time off from the game and got away from the game. I had a chance to win in Chinese Taipei (in July) but it didn't happen," said Barr.
68: Scott Barr, Panuphol Pittayarat.
69: Mardan Mamat, Chawalit Plaphol.
70: Lu Wei-chih, Phachara Khongwatmai, Chan Shih-chang, Miguel Tabuena.
71: Javi Colomo, Sam Chien, Hsu Mong-nan, Nicholas Fung, Chikkarangappa S.
72: Himmat Rai, Lin Wen-tang, Lu Wen-teh, Toni Ferrer, Yeh Yu-chen (am).