MARDAN HOLDS ONE-SHOT LEAD OVER FAST-CHARGING TABUENA AT ICTSI PHILIPPINE OPEN
Singaporean veteran Mardan Mamat rode a hot putter to hold a slender one-shot lead over a fast-charging Filipino teenager Miguel Tabuena after the third round of the ICTSI Philippine Open on Saturday.
Mardan, chasing a third Asian Tour victory, holed several huge par saves en route to a battling two-under-par 70 at a wind-swept Wack Wack Golf and Country Club’s East course to lead on seven-under-par 209 in Asia’s oldest national Open.
His overnight three-shot lead was reduced by Tabuena’s brilliant course record-equaling 67 while Korea’s Mo Joong-kyung fired a 68 to trail by two on 211 with only the top-three players breaking par after 54 holes.
Earlier, Hwang Inn-choon of Korea established a new course record 67 following the East course’s renovation last year to move to tied fourth place on level par for the US$300,000 Asian Tour tournament alongside American Ben Fox, who returned a 74.
The 44-year-old Mardan, winless since 2006, didn’t swing it as smoothly as Friday’s second round but his putter came through as he carded four birdies against two bogeys to set up an intriguing battle of the ages with local favourite and 17-year-old Tabuena. Mardan produced huge par saves on eight, nine and 12 to that kept his round going.
“I was struggling with my irons and hit a lot of fliers. But I holed a lot of putts. The putt on number eight was unbelievable. Yesterday, I hit the ball good but didn’t putt it good. Today, I didn’t hit it good but putted good. It comes and goes. Hopefully both will come together tomorrow,” said Mardan, who hit only eight greens in regulation but was aided by requiring 23 putts in his round.
“You don’t know what will happen tomorrow. As I said, this course can make you happy and it can make you angry. Both of them (Tabuena and Mo) shot a 67 and 68, I think that’s a good round with the winds. Hopefully it’ll be my turn tomorrow to shoot that number.
“It’ll be the first time I’ll play with Miguel. He’s a good potential. He’s got a good swing and good guidance from Rick Gibson (his coach). He’s certainly an upcoming Asian player,” added Mardan.
The tenacious Tabuena closed the gap on Mardan with a glorious start, sinking four birdies in his opening six holes. He notched three more birdies against two bogeys to set up what would be the biggest day of his young golfing life just yet.