Battle of the Ages

Sat 11 Feb 2012

Battle of the Ages


Manila, February 11: Singaporean veteran Mardan Mamat rode a hot putter to hold a slender one-shot lead over a fast-charging Filipino teenager Miguel Tabuena after the third round of the ICTSI Philippine Open on Saturday.

Mardan, chasing a third Asian Tour victory, holed several huge par saves en route to a battling two-under-par 70 at a wind-swept Wack Wack Golf and Country Club’s East course to lead on seven-under-par 209 in Asia’s oldest national Open.

His overnight three-shot lead was reduced by Tabuena’s brilliant course record-equaling 67 while Korea’s Mo Joong-kyung fired a 68 to trail by two on 211 with only the top-three players breaking par after 54 holes.

Earlier, Hwang Inn-choon of Korea established a new course record 67 following the East course’s renovation last year to move to tied fourth place on level par for the US$300,000 Asian Tour tournament alongside American Ben Fox, who returned a 74.

The 44-year-old Mardan, winless since 2006, didn’t swing it as smoothly as Friday’s second round but his putter came through as he carded four birdies against two bogeys to set up an intriguing battle of the ages with local favourite and 17-year-old Tabuena. Mardan produced huge par saves on eight, nine and 12 to that kept his round going.

“I was struggling with my irons and hit a lot of fliers. But I holed a lot of putts. The putt on number eight was unbelievable. Yesterday, I hit the ball good but didn’t putt it good. Today, I didn’t hit it good but putted good. It comes and goes. Hopefully both will come together tomorrow,” said Mardan, who hit only eight greens in regulation but was aided by requiring 23 putts in his round.


“You don’t know what will happen tomorrow. As I said, this course can make you happy and it can make you angry. Both of them (Tabuena and Mo) shot a 67 and 68, I think that’s a good round with the winds. Hopefully it’ll be my turn tomorrow to shoot that number.

“It’ll be the first time I’ll play with Miguel. He’s a good potential. He’s got a good swing and good guidance from Rick Gibson (his coach). He’s certainly an upcoming Asian player,” added Mardan.

The tenacious Tabuena closed the gap on Mardan with a glorious start, sinking four birdies in his opening six holes. He notched three more birdies against two bogeys to set up what would be the biggest day of his young golfing life just yet.

I can’t wait for tomorrow. It wasn’t easy. I just told myself to stay patient and hit fairways and greens and it worked. I started out quick. It is really hard to make mistakes when you’re in a zone. It was fun. It was really hard to make mistakes,” said Tabuena, who is bidding to become the third youngest winner on the Asian Tour.

With a contingent of 20 family members, and coach Gibson who also made the cut, in the gallery, Tabuena showed no fear despite his lack of experience. He said he would go all-out to win the ICTSI Philippine Open on Sunday.

“Just play the same way that I’ve been playing and hopefully I will come out on top. There was a lot of pressure especially when you’re playing on home soil. I’m happy I coped with it,” he said.

“I’ve got nothing to lose. I just want to go out there and have some fun. It’ll mean everything (if I can win). I’ve been dreaming about winning this tournament for a long time. I just kept telling myself that I can win the Philippine Open,” he added.

Like Mardan, Mo is also chasing a third Asian Tour victory and he stayed in contention with a five-birdie round. “Not bad going into the last round,” said the Korean.

“The winds started to blow really hard on a few holes and it was pretty tough. The front nine, you could make a few birdies as some holes are short but the back nine is pretty tough. I think I played what I wanted.

“It was fun watching Miguel. It’s pretty good for a 17-year-old. He’s a good putter and very determined at what he wants to do. It was fun to watch.”

Scores after round 3 of the The Asian Tour - ICTSI Philippine Open being played at the par 72, 7,222 Yards Wack Wack GCC course (a- denotes amateur):

209 - Mardan MAMAT (SIN) 69-70-70.

210 - Miguel TABUENA (PHI) 71-72-67.

211 - MO Joong-kyung (KOR) 72-71-68.

216 - HWANG Inn-choon (KOR) 77-72-67, Ben FOX (USA) 69-73-74.

217 - Azuma YANO (JPN) 69-75-73, Paul DONAHOO (AUS) 71-72-74.

218 - Berry HENSON (USA) 73-73-72, KIM Gi-whan (KOR) 71-75-72, Marcus BOTH (AUS) 72-72-74, Thanyakon KHRONGPHA (THA) 70-74-74, Mars PUCAY (PHI) 70-74-74, Danny CHIA (MAS) 75-69-74, Adam BLYTH (AUS) 73-70-75, Antonio LASCUNA (PHI) 71-71-76.

219 - Pasamet POGAMNERD (THA) 74-75-70, Joonas GRANBERG (FIN) 72-74-73, Wade ORMSBY (AUS) 70-76-73, Rahil GANGJEE (IND) 75-70-74, Arnond VONGVANIJ (THA) 73-72-74, Anthony KANG (USA) 69-75-75, Sam CYR (USA) 71-72-76.


About the ICTSI Philippine Open

As Asia’s oldest national Championship, the ICTSI Philippine Open is no doubt one of the most prestigious Opens on the Asian Tour calendar. It is title sponsored by the International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI), which is in the business of acquiring, developing and operating container ports and terminals worldwide. Other sponsors include HSBC (Official Bank), Panasonic Philippines (Official Co-Sponsor), Globe Telecom (Official Roaming & Telecommunications Sponsor), San Miguel (Official Co-Sponsor), Cathay Pacific (Official Airlines), OMEGA (Official Timekeeper) and BlackBerry (Official Smartphone and Tablet Partner).

About the Asian Tour

As the official sanctioning body for professional golf in Asia, the Asian Tour leads the development of golf across the region, enhancing the careers of its members while maintaining a commitment to the integrity of the game. The Asian Tour, through its membership of the International Federation of PGA Tours, is the only recognised pan-Asian professional golf tour in Asia. This unique feature positions the Asian Tour at the pinnacle of professional golf in Asia; providing its events with Official World Ranking status. Tour Partners include Rolex (Official Timekeeper), J.Lindeberg (Apparel Partner), Starwood Hotels and Resorts (Official Hotels and Resorts), Cityneon (Official Event Overlay Partner), Inetol Headwear (Official Headwear Supplier), Singha Beer (Official Beer), BlackBerry (Official Smartphgone and Tablet Partner) and Srixon (Official Ball). The Asian Tour has offices in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.