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Singapore, August 19: The success story of Siddikur Rahman, one of the hottest properties on the Asian Tour this season, mirrors that of Singapore’s very own local hero, Mardan Mamat.
And when the 26-year-old Siddikur lines up in the ISPS Handa Singapore Classic at Orchid Country Club from September 8-11, 2011, the Bangladeshi sensation will be hoping to lock horns with Mardan in the US$300,000 Asian Tour tournament.
Like Mardan who grew up in the caddie ranks before attaining success, first as a national amateur star and subsequently on the Asian Tour where he has won twice, Siddikur has also endured a challenging route in his road to fame.
He grew up in Dhaka in a poor family, took up the job as a ball boy at the Kurmitola Golf Club to pay for his education, caddied for army officers and subsequently learned to play the game himself by mimicking the golf swings of club members.
Similarly to Mardan, Siddikur is also now rated as one of the hardest working players on Tour, which has yielded him a slice of history when he became the first Bangladeshi winner on the Asian Tour following his triumph in the 2010 Brunei Open.
This year, he has already accumulated two top-three finishes and two other top-10s on the Asian Tour, while he won the Grameenphone Bangladesh Masters on the Asian Development Tour, a circuit for upcoming talents.
Currently second on the Order of Merit, Siddikur will be the highest ranked player in the ISPS Handa Singapore Classic. India’s Jyoti Randhawa, a former Singapore Open champion and the 2002 Asian Tour number one, has predicted great things for Siddikur.
“He’s got a great short game and is great putter. I wish he was a little longer. For the Asian Tour, he’s right up there. He’s got a great compact swing and a great attitude,” said Randhawa.
Australia’s Adam Scott was also impressed by the stocky Bangladeshi when they played together at last year’s CIMB Asia Pacific Classic in Malaysia, an event sanctioned by the Asian Tour and PGA Tour.
“It was a fun day to watch him play, obviously the first Bangladeshi to play on Tour, anywhere in the world I think. He’s been really successful and it’s great to see. He’s got a really solid game.
He’s not long but hits it very straight and that’s something I’m very jealous of. I’m sure he’s got a bright future.” To his credit, Siddikur has kept his feet firmly on the ground despite his new-found fame and riches. He paid tribute to the Asian Tour for broadening his golfing horizon.
“I’m happy to be second on the Order of Merit. In 2009 (when he first played on Tour), I was just making the cut and struggled. But I gained more experience playing on the Asian Tour and started to have more confidence,” he said.
“This year, it’s been good. I’m just trying to get better. I’m concentrating better and I think that’s why I’ve been doing good.” Driving distance isn’t his forte but Siddikur makes up for it by being consistent and staying out of trouble on the golf course.
Still, he has raked in the most number of birdies thus far this season with a haul of 127 birds. “Since the start of my career, I’ve always been trying to play par golf and if there were birdies, it would be a bonus.
I’m trying to improve my short game as that’s the key to making under par scores,” said Siddikur. Back home, Siddikur’s growing reputation has helped spur the development of the game. When he played in the ADT event this year, throngs of fans gathered to watch him play and aptly nicknamed him the “Tiger Woods of Bangladesh”.
Some even ran onto the golf course during his round for his autograph. “His success on the Asian Tour was so rapid and big for the people in our country. He got the media interested in golf because of his huge success and that was a big breakthrough for golf in the country,” said Brigadier General Salim Akhtar (Rtd), a member of the Bangladesh Golf Federation.
Siddikur said: “There are a lot of changes now since I started playing. It is different with more support and interest back home. I feel proud that golf in Bangladesh is taking flight and I would like to see more Bangladeshi golfers playing all over the world and flying the country’s flag.”
The ISPS Handa Singapore Classic will be beamed live on the Asian Tour’s television platform of over 200 nations and 800 million homes during the weekend rounds, ensuring that Singapore will be the centre of attention during the week.
Photo - Asian Tour
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