Fasting Mardan endures for Malaysian victory

Mardan Mamat drops to his knees after holing the winning putt.

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – Overcoming intense heat and humidity, Mardan Mamat showed strength and stamina to win the Mercedes-Benz Masters Malaysia Saturday at Kota Permai Golf and Country Club.

The Singaporean, battling with the effects of fasting and not even drinking a single drop of water, beat Pariya Junhasavasdikul from Thailand on the first hole of a playoff for one of the most remarkable victories seen in the region.

“This is a month of blessings, and this victory is truly a blessing,” said an emotional and exhausted Mardan.

The 42-year-old nailed a pressure-packed downhill birdie putt from 10 feet on the par-5 18th to win the Mercedes-Benz Tour event. Pariya missed his birdie putt from 18 feet.

The pair had finished tied at 13-under 275, with Mardan carding a 69 and Pariya a 72.

Young Thai player Thanyakon Khrongpha closed with a 67, but bogeyed the last to miss the playoff by one.

“This was really tough, both mentally and physically. It is a very special victory,” said Mardan, who dropped to his knees in prayer after holing the winning putt.

Mardan is fasting for Ramadhan – the Islamic month when Muslims refrain from eating and drinking from dawn until sunset.

He started the final round three strokes behind overnight-leader Pariya, but drew level with a round of four birdies and one bogey. A crucial birdie on No. 16 saw him catch his playing partner.

It was Mardan’s second victory on tour; he also won the Mercedes-Benz Masters Singapore in 2009.

Pariya, who claimed the same Singapore event in 2008, was unable to shake Mardan as he made nine straight pars on the back nine.

“I played some really good golf so I am not disappointed,” said Pariya. “Mardan is a really good friend of mine so I am really happy for him. I can take a lot from this tournament.”

The 26-year-old from Bangkok knew he was in for a fight when he double-bogeyed the par-3 fourth while Mardan birdied.

Khor Kheng Hwai finished as the leading Malaysian in joint fourth place. He closed with a 68 for his best finish on tour.

The next event is the Mercedes-Benz Masters Vietnam, Sept. 29-Oct. 2.

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