Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia: Singaporean Mardan Mamat prevailed in a pulsating final round to claim a masterful four-shot victory at the Sabah Masters.
At his indomitable best, the 46-year-old staved off a fierce challenge from Malaysians Danny Chia (67) and Arie Irawan (68) to triumph at Sutera Harbour Golf & Country Club.
Even a bogey on 17 failed to ruffle Mardan, who notched four birdies in a closing three-under 68 to clinch his fourth ASEAN PGA Tour title with a 10-under-par 274 total.
Starting the final round at the US$100,000 Tour Championship with a four-shot cushion, Mardan came under immediate pressure from Chia, who rode a hot putter with six birdies through 11 holes, to halve the deficit.
But Chia failed to narrow the gap further, missing a short birdie putt on the 12th after Mardan converted a five-footer of his own. The Malaysian number one suffered again when he two-putted for bogey on the following hole to fall off the pace.
Similarly, Irawan’s putting woes returned to haunt him after an inspired start as he fired blanks on the back nine to settle for a share of second alongside Chia on six-under 278.
Sabahan Ben Leong returned a flawless 67 to finish sole fourth on 279, one stroke clear of Thailand’s Sutijet Kooratanapisan (67).
After picking up a cheque for US$16,675, Mardan said: “I’ve come close a number of times at the Sabah Masters in the past and failed to finish it off, so to finally get my hands on this trophy means a lot to me. It is nice to start off my 2015 season on a winning note and to be pushed all the way to the end for this win makes it all the more satisfying.
“I have to admit that Danny got off to a hot start and I had to resolutely defend my advantage. I knew that I had to shoot something like three to four-under today if I was going to be up here. I’m very pleased with my performance – I struck the ball with a lot of conviction and my course management was excellent.”
Mardan finished second on the Road to Sabah Masters rankings with a haul of US$20,085.
The veteran is enjoyed a purple patch of form and a second title is as many months after his runaway victory at the Resorts World Manila Masters at the end of last year means that he is no longer thinking about hanging up his clubs for good.
“The secret I believe is to stay healthy, keep breathing and play better golf – even when the chips are down,” he quipped.