Rashid Khan of India and Singapore’s Mardan Mamat believe the Bashundhara Bangladesh Open, which gets underway on Wednesday, will be the start of the golf boom in the country.
Khan and Mardan, who have won a combined total of six Asian Tour titles, will be among the favourites to challenge for the title at the US$300,000 event played at the Kurmitola Golf Club.
Berry Henson of the United States, a winner on the Asian Tour, Thaworn Wiratchant of Thailand and Mithun Perera of Sri Lanka will also feature in the event, which is one of five new tournaments to join the Asian Tour Schedule this year.
Mardan, a four-time Asian Tour winner, hailed the new event on the Asian Tour as the blueprint for other emerging markets to follow and stage tournaments on the region’s premier golf circuit in the near future.
“We must start from somewhere and once we’ve done that, we can help promote golf in other countries as well. This is good for the Tour. Hopefully this tournament will be on the Schedule for many more seasons to come,” he said.
The 48-year-old veteran is riding a rich vein of form following a third place result in Mauritius two weeks ago but he feels that the local golfers including two-time Asian Tour winner Siddikur Rahman will have a strong chance to win this week.
“This is a big tournament for everybody in Bangladesh. It is nice to come here and support the tournament. Most of the players are playing here for the first time but by one or two rounds, we will know how to play the golf course.
“The local players have a good advantage here. If they win this tournament, they will earn a winner’s exemption on the Asian Tour. They know the course well and that will help them do well this week,” said Mardan, who is ranked 16th on the Order of Merit.
Indian rising star Khan will use a new driver this week to bolster his chances of securing a third Asian Tour title.
“I met my mental coach (Aparna Jain) before coming here and I told her that there’s nothing wrong with my mental game. I’m just not finding enough fairways. I’m comfortable with my game now because I changed my driver,” he explained.
Henson hopes for a successful debut at the Bashundhara Bangladesh Open as he aims to replicate his only victory on the Asian Tour in Philippines four years ago.
“I have no expectations and sometimes that’s good for a golfer. It is always nice to visit a new country. People here are excited that the Asian Tour is in town. There is a lot of excitement surrounding this tournament and the players are excited to perform,” said Henson.
“I got a lot of work to do in the next two days because I haven’t had much practice. I’ve been fighting to recover from a stomach bug. I’m trying to get as much knowledge as I can on the golf course. I enjoy going to different places and I usually play well when I’m in a new place or country,” he said.