Patience Pays Off for Mardan

Thu 09 Feb 2012

Patience Pays Off for Mardan


Manila, February 9: Singaporean veteran Mardan Mamat, Japan’s Azuma Yano and American Matthew Rosenfeld shared the early honours after the morning session of the first round of the ICTSI Philippine Open on Thursday.

The leading trio posted three-under-par 69s at the demanding Wack Wack Golf and Country Club’s East course with Thai youngster Thanyakon Khrongpha, Filipino newcomer Charles Hong and former Walker Cup player James Byrne of Scotland lying one shot back in the US$300,000 Asian Tour event which is Asia’s oldest national

Mardan, a two-time winner on the Asian Tour, said words of advice from Filipino great Frankie Minoza helped him tame the notorious East course, which yielded a winning score of five-under-par 283 by last year’s winner Berry Henson of the United States.

“I’m very pleased with this score. As you know, the course is not playing easy. You need a lot of patience. I had dinner with Frankie on Tuesday and he’s got a lot of experience playing on this course. He said to be patient and to expect that things are going to happen. That’s good advice as I’ve not played here for a long time,” said Mardan.

Mardan’s five birdies were from close range but he was particularly delighted with a par save at the challenging par three eighth, which has a dome-shaped green. “The highlight was probably on eight. I missed it (the green) on the right and the pin was at the right corner. But I managed to hit a good bump and run shot to six feet and got my par there. Some of the holes here, bogeys are not bad scores. On that hole, par is a bonus,” said the 44-year-old Singapore, who is chasing his first victory since 2006.

“I’ve got a lot of respect for this golf course. I hit it good and I’m glad I holed some putts today. Hopefully, the next three days will be the same.”

Yano, a three-time Japan Tour winner and playing on a sponsor’s invite, shot six birdies against three bogeys. Like Mardan, he said playing defensively at Wack Wack is the key to a good score. “With the small greens, you’ve got to hit good shots. It’s tough to get birdies as the greens have some slopes on them,” said Yano.

“I could birdie some of the easier holes but I made some bad tee shots for my bogeys. It’s the off season in Japan and that’s why I’m playing here. I missed my Asian Tour card from Qualifying School (by one shot). I’ve played in a few events in Asia and I would like to play more on the Asian Tour if I get a chance. It’s a good Tour.”

Rosenfeld was the surprise joint leader, especially after overhauling his golf swing two weeks before a third visit to the Asian Tour Qualifying School in January. “I got the juices flowing out there a little bit. I’ve not had a good start in a little while and I’ll take it. The key is not getting too upset. The first hole, I hit a shot that was the best of the day to four feet and I then barely had a sniff at the hole,” said the American.

“I birdied nine and then birdied 11, 12, 13 and 14. I bogeyed 16 and birdied 18. It was an awesome back nine.”

After enduring what he termed as a “bad” year in 2011, Rosenfeld opted for a new swing coach and the results have been encouraging so far. “At the end of last year, every part of my game was bad for the first time in my career.

“I’m in the process of changing instructors. I’ve just did it two weeks before Q-school. Everything is still new to me. It worked today but there are some loose shots out there. It’s a 180 degree change from what I was doing before. First week, I was shanking it six out of 10 shots. We had to bring it back down as I was going to Q-school. I’m probably about 15 or 20 percent of what I’m supposed to be doing.”