Mardan set for landmark 300th Tour start

Mardan Mamat © Paul Lakatos/Asian Tour

Shah Alam: Singaporean ace Mardan Mamat is set to chalk up another milestone in his illustrious career this Wednesday when he tees up at the Worldwide Holdings Selangor Masters.

The 44-year-old will record his 300th Asian Tour  start at Kota Permai Golf & Country Club – a haul only second to Thai maestro Thaworn Wiratchant, who has played 40 events more on the region’s elite circuit.

With three Asian Tour titles and over 40 top-10s accumulated since breaking onto the scene in 1995, Mardan said he is still as motivated as ever despite the game welcoming a generation of upcoming young stars in Asia.

“Winning is my biggest motivation,” said Mardan today. “I’m quite happy that at the age of 45 (he turns 45 next month), I can still compete. I’m very fortunate. Some of my peers have given up playing tournaments. But I want to get better every day. That’s the key to my success of playing. “As long as I can keep fit, I would love to play on till I’m 55 or 60. I still want to play on the main tour.”

Mardan’s first triumph came at the 2004 Indian Open before he went on to secure a popular home triumph at the Singapore Masters in 2006. Then in February this year, he ended a six-year winless run with a commanding victory at the ICTSI Philippine Open.

“Every win was special,” he said. “I love to win and I love to compete. By doing that, I like to work hard and keep getting into shape. From young, I have always worked hard. I love to do it.  Every day when I wake up in the morning, I look forward to playing golf and going to practice. When you love that, you look forward to do it. I still love to compete.”

With notable success at Kota Permai Golf & Country Club in the past, Mardan is in a confident mood to mark the occasion with a victory parade come Saturday.

“I like the course very much. Hopefully I can play well. I’m striking the ball good, and I hope to hole some putts. Last week, I hit the ball very good but I didn’t hole a lot putts. But in the last two rounds in Switzerland, I putted better as I remembered something in my putting routine.”

In an illustrious career spanning close to two decades which has seen him establish himself as Singapore’s leading golf star, Mardan said the two biggest changes in the game was that players were now well into the fitness regime and also the evolution of golf equipment.

“Nowadays after a round, players will do fitness. Equipment wise, players are also taking advantage of new equipment by hitting it longer. It’s helped not only me but a lot of players,” he said.

Hence, at the end of last year when he finished 57th on the Order of Merit which was his lowest position in over 10 years, Mardan embarked on a fitness regime which he credited for his Philippine win. “Throughout the years, week in week out, if you’re not fit, you will be left behind,” he said. “I know I can still keep playing for a while yet.”