It seems Mardan Mamat can do no wrong at the Delhi Golf Club. On the eve of the defence of his Hero Honda Indian Open title he romped to victory in the Pro-Am.
It may have only been the Pro-Am, and his team's winning score of 26 under par was in a big way due to the efforts of his amateur partners, but it showed that the Singaporean still has something of a magic touch at the famous venue.
He won India's national Open last year by five strokes after finishing 18 under par thanks to a closing seven-under-par 65. His success was the first victory by a Singaporean on the Asian Tour.
"I feel pretty relaxed. As the defending champion you do feel you have a responsibility to play well but I just want to go out there and play my best. Of course, one more win would be nice but I don't want to put pressure on myself and feel I need to win so badly," said Mamat.
"I am looking forward to defending my title. I thought I would be defending it earlier this year but, of course, it was postponed until later in the season," added Mamat.
The Singaporean says physically he is in great shape although he is not quite at the top of his game. His confidence was boosted by a good finish in the recent World Cup qualifier, where he and compatriot Lam Chih Bing made it through to the finalsin Portugal.
"Iwas playing really good for the first half of last year when I won in India and faded a little over the second part of the year. Physically I feel in great shape right now. I still have very, very good memories of the final round when I shot 65," added the former amateur star.
Mamat had come close to victory on the Asian Tour many times since turning professional in 1994before breaking through in New Delhi last year.
He added:"For every professional when they win a tournament they gain a lot of confidence. Once you break that jinx you really feel you are up and running."
TheSingaporean has been paired with Indian Arjun Atwal, making his first appearance in India since enjoying a great year on the US PGA Tour, and James Kingston from South Africa in the first two rounds.
Mamat has not enjoyed a great season so far and is presently in 28thposition on the Asian Tour Order of Merit, with a best finish of joint sixth in the Crown Plaza Open, Beijing in China. His winnings this year total US$88,167.
With the memories of last year's victory still fresh in mind, and flushed with success in the Pro-Am,where his team triumphed by a stroke from Atwal's side, which had cricket legend Kapil Dev, he will be hoping to make his mark in the Hero Honda Indian Open once again.