Kuala Lumpur, March 29: Singapore’s Mardan Mamat, fresh from victory in India, hopes to pop the champagne this week by winning a prized ticket to the British Open via the Asian route.
Mardan broke through for his maiden title on the Asian Tour on Sunday when he clinched a five-shot win in the Royal Challenge Indian Open. However, he has put the celebration on hold to focus on the 36-hole International Final Qualifying (IFQ) – Asia at Saujana Golf and Country Club starting tomorrow.
A total of 40 players, including Jyoti Randhawa of India, Korea’s Charlie Wi, Thailand’s Boonchu Ruangkit and Yeh Wei-tze of Taiwan, will battle for four places at the British Open, which will be held at Royal Troon from July 15-18.
Mardan is hoping to cap a tremendous last few days by earning a second appearance in the world’s oldest Major, having also qualified for Royal Troon in 1997.
“I still have good memories of Royal Troon,” said Mardan today. “I hope I can get back on track here and give myself a chance of qualifying.”
Mardan, the first Singaporean to win on the Asian Tour, took his season’s earnings to US$109,884 as he became the eighth player to surpass the US$100,000 mark this year. After arriving at Saujana at noon, Mardan knows he must recharge his batteries quickly ahead of Tuesday’s first round.
“I’ve not had a chance to celebrate my win. When I’m back in Singapore, I’ll get together with some friends, club members and sponsors. Winning on Sunday was an enjoyable experience as it was a big break in my career. But there is also this week to look forward to,” said Mardan.
A confident Randhawa is chasing for his third British Open appearance after featuring at St Andrews and Royal St George’s in 2000 and 2003 respectively.
The Indian star, Asia’s number one player two years ago, has enjoyed impressive outings in European Tour-sanctioned events this year, finishing tied second at the Johnnie Walker Classic in Thailand in January and third in the recent Caltex Masters Presented by Carlsberg in Singapore.
“The qualifiers here is a great opportunity for Asian players to get into the British Open. There are two rounds to play and you really need to go for it and play aggressively. My game has been good the last few months as I’ve got more self-belief in my ability and my golf swing.
“Qualifying for the Majors is what professional players aim for. I’ve been to two British Opens previously and I feel my game is now ready to take on the best players in the world,” said Randhawa.
Taiwan’s Yeh Wei-tze is also seeking to relive the buzz of being at a Major. He qualified for St Andrews in 2000 – the year he won the European Tour-sanctioned Malaysian Open.
“I still think of St Andrews occasionally,” said Yeh. “That’s why I’m here this week, to try and qualify for the British Open again.”
Last season, Yeh won on the Japan Golf Tour, beating the legendary Jumbo Ozaki at the 72nd hole of the ANA Open. In December, he clinched the ROC PGA Championship on home soil.
Yeh played in the season-opening event in Japan last week but missed the cut. “It wasn’t ideal preparation for this week. However, I have put in a lot of practice in pre-season and hope to do well here.”
American Brian Watts, runner-up of the British Open in 1998, withdrew from the qualifying event this morning.
For further information, please contact Chuah Choo Chiang at the Press Centre at Saujana Golf and Country Club at tel: 603 7846 1484