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Singaporean veteran Mardan Mamat is hoping to be third time lucky when he takes his place alongside the world's leading golfers at The Open Championship at Royal Lytham and St Annes, England next week. The three-time Asian Tour winner has featured twice previously in the world's oldest Major in 1997 and 2005 but did not progress into the weekend rounds. He came close in his second attempt at St Andrews but missed out by two shots with late bogeys in his second round spoiling his hopes.
"I'm really looking forward to the British Open. Hopefully I can play better than my previous two appearances there. I know the weather conditions will be tough," said the 44-year-old, who was victorious in the ICTSI Philippine Open in February.
His first Open foray was in Royal Troon but he shot rounds of 83 and 75 to mark his Major debut. Seven years later at the Home of Golf, he improved with cards of 75 and 72 and he reckons he needs to keep improving on his numbers to achieve his goal of featuring in all four rounds at Royal Lytham and St Annes next week.
He said he enjoys the challenges of links golf and got a taste of battling high winds at the Queen's Cup in Koh Samui, Thailand last month.
"I kind of got myself familiar with those kind conditions at Koh Samui. That was good practice for me. No doubt it'll be a different course when I get to England but I can still feel the gusty winds out there and I'm glad I got the chance to compete under those tough conditions," said Mardan, who is currently 12th on the Asian Tour's Order of Merit.
Well into his 40s now, Mardan expects to get goose-bumps when his name is called upon on the first tee before the start of his first round next Thursday.
"Playing in a Major is every professional's dream and I'm no different. I want to make it a memorable trip this year," he said.
As Singapore's most successful golfer on the Asian Tour, Mardan has been around in the game for a very long time. Apart from his three victories, including one co-sanctioned title, he has amassed 42 top-10s on region's elite circuit.
He has finished outside of the top-60 of the rankings only once since 1995 but following a 57th placing last season, the veteran knew he had to push the extra mile to keep up in the game which is now loaded with talented young players.
In pre-season, he employed a fitness coach and the results were immediate as he won in the Philippines and subsequently earned his Open ticket through International Final Qualifying â€“ Asia in Thailand. He also won an Asian Development Tour title in Malaysia.
"I did a lot of work out. I spent four or five times a week in the gym with my trainer. I think that has helped my fitness better," he said.
"I worked on my cardio a lot and did some weight training. Worked a lot of my legs. Towards the end of last season, I felt my legs were wobbly on the swing. I worked on it and my legs are not wobbling with my swing now. I just basically got stronger on the lower body and it allowed me to swing better. I have got my balance better."
Mardan will be in a strong contingent of Asian Tour stars at The Open. Reigning Asian Tour number one Juvic Pagunsan of the Philippines, India's Anirban Lahiri, Japan's Kodai Ichihara, Singaporean veteran Mardan Mamat, Thai duo Thongchai Jaidee and Prayad Marksaneg and South African Jbe Kruger, currently leading the Order of Merit, will also feature at Royal Lytham and St Annes.
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