Yoga Has Boosted My Career: Mardan

Sun 28 Mar 2004

Yoga Has Boosted My Career: Mardan

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April 7: Singapore's Mardan Mamat is the latest member of the Asian Tour winner's club to vouch that yoga has helped him achieve his career breakthrough.The 36-year-old Mardan has played in the region for the past decade with two runner-up outings being his best performances. But two weeks ago, he claimed his first major trophy with a stunning five-shot victory in the Royal Challenge Indian Open.Mardan shot a final round of seven-under-par 65 at Delhi Golf Club to overcome an overnight three-shot deficit and picked up his career best cheque of US$50,000, which swelled his 2004 earnings to US$109,884 - the first time he has surpassed the six-figure mark in a season.
"I've been able to control my emotions better of late. I'm more relaxed and it has everything to do with yoga. The breathing techniques and the stretching exercises are truly amazing," said Mardan, who is currently eighth on the Asian Tour Order of Merit.
The turning point in his career occurred last October. After his game came to a grinding halt when he missed the cut in the Macau Open - his third disappointment in four starts - Mardan sought for Kel Llewellyn's coaching.
The Australian swing guru, who works with other top Asian Tour stars including Jyoti Randhawa, Kyi Hla Han, Zhang Lian-wei and Danny Chia, is a firm advocate of the benefits of yoga, which he learned during his stint as India's national coach.
Llewellyn introduced yoga master Sukhdev Singh, better known as a yogi, to Mardan and the results soon followed. In his first event under Llewellyn's tutelage, Mardan finished tied second in the Sanya Open on Hainan island, China.
He carried on from where he left off in 2003 and produced two tied fourth outings in Thailand and Myanmar at the start of the season and contended in the Caltex Masters Presented by Carlsberg, jointly sanctioned by the Asian and European Tours, on home soil in March before settling for joint eighth place. Then came Mardan's breakthrough in India.
"Yoga relaxes a person's mind. I find that I'm more aware of the situation at hand and it has certainly helped. Kel and Sukhdev have been influential and with these two guys, I am on the right track. I've told Sukhdev that I'll do yoga on a regular basis and if he's not on Tour, I'll be on the phone with him.
"When I was in contention in Thailand and Myanmar, I kept thinking of winning. But in India, my focus was on what I needed to do on the course and I took it one shot at a time. Before the start of the final round, I spent some time with Sukhdev doing yoga and he also told me to not think about winning but to enjoy the game. That put me in perspective," said Mardan, who was bogey-free in the final round in India.
He added that Llewellyn's teachings "made a lot sense" and has given him a new drive in his bid to find more success on the Asian Tour.
"After Macau, I started working with Kel and he knows my game and started making changes. It works for me," said Mardan, who regularly takes the short trip across the causeway to Palm Resort in Johor, Malaysia where Llewellyn is based.
Mardan is not the first to believe in the benefits of yoga. Randhawa, who recently qualified for his third British Open, said the ancient Indian practice was pivotal in his rise to Asia's number one in 2002 which he achieved nine months after breaking his collarbone in a motorbike crash.
India Mardan TrophyMalaysia's Chia also broke through with victory in the Acer Taiwan Open in 2002, saying the breathing techniques, which help reduces the heartbeat, provided the calming influence on his back nine charge during the final round.
Last season was also particularly difficult for Mardan as his wife, Orkid died in April after a battle with cancer. He was playing in the Thailand Open when she passed away. His Indian success came nearly a year after his loss. "It's Orkid's first anniversary and I'm dedicating this win for her," he said.
"Winning in India was a big break for me - it took me 10 years of trying. I'm feeling very relaxed now. I guess when you win a tournament it is good and bad. Sometimes you don't know what is going to happen next, if another win is there for the taking. But that is why we are always working hard at the game," said Mardan.