Eighteen-year-old Matteo Manassero has fond memories of the Maybank Malaysian Open. His win last year made him the youngest-ever winner of a European Tour competition. Now Manassero is back to defend his title, in a star-studded field that includes World Golf numbers 4 and 6, so he knows he’s in for one tough tussle.
Martin Kaymer, current World No 4 and 2010 US PGA Champ, together with World No 6 and 2011 US Masters winner Charl Schwartzel, haven’t come here to lose. And it’s without doubt the same story with 2010 British Open Champion Louis Oosthuizen and six-time European Tour winner Alvaro Quiros. Add to that outstanding line-up a whole raft of seasoned and successful internationals (and not a few locals) in the field of 156, and we have a battle royale right here in KL.
Such is the quality of the field, the US$2.5 million event will again attract worldwide attention, not least because precious Race to Dubai points are also up for grabs.
An impressive line-up of Asian internationals will ensure that the battle is not confined to the West’s best. Former Malaysian Open winners include many outstanding Asian stars, from Thailand (Thongchai Jaidee twice), South Korea, India and China. Locally, a Malaysian has yet to lift the title, but in-form Danny Chia and a group of young and talented new professionals will be all out to redress that. Don’t write any of them off.
The Maybank Malaysian Open returns once more to the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club (KLGCC), one of the country’s most prestigious golf establishments. The newly refurbished club, which is situated in a picturesque parkland setting just 8km from the heart of the city, offers two of the country’s most challenging Championship courses – and in both cases their most eyepleasing.
The West Course is the 2012 challenge, and in the view of experts is indisputably the No 1 in the country, with legitimate claim to being one of the region’s best.
As a golfing challenge, it stands at 6,368m, par-72, which though not monstrously long, is regarded as a thinking golfer’s course.
History of ‘firsts’
The Malaysian Open was the first event to be co-sanctioned with the Asian and European Tours, which naturally led to the presence of truly top-class international fields.
In 2002, it became Asia’s first million-USdollar National Open, and now boasts a pot that has grown to US$2.5 million.
The Race to Dubai
Players who make the Maybank Malaysian Open cut will have to opportunity to gain vital points for The Race to Dubai, which is an event unlike any other. It spans the entire golf season, offers more prize money than any other golf tournament in the world and involves all events on the European Tour International Schedule.
It culminates in the Dubai World Championship (hence the name), where the leading players – the cream of world golf – compete for a slice of the US$10 million Bonus Pool. In addition, the Maybank Malaysian Open winner receives a two-year exemption to the European and Asian Tours, another extremely valuable reward.
Super spectator opportunities (win a car!)
The on-course action is obviously the prime attraction, but spectators – before, during and after the daily battle – can take advantage of some fabulous amenities, challenges and rewards, including winning a brand new Hyundai car.
There are two strategically sited public covered grandstands; and for a bird’s-eye view of the action, check out the Maybank Sky Bird. Then there’s a demo by a worldfamous trick golf shot ace… and much more, including a fabulous food choice. Ticket prices are very affordable, too. See you there.
German professional, current World No 4, former World No 1 (2011) and US 2010 Masters winner. Has won 10 tournaments on the European Tour, including four in 2010 to win the Race to Dubai, and only the 10th player to have won both a Major and a World Golf Championship event.
South African professional and current World No 6. In April 2011, Schwartzel won the 75th US Masters Tournament to become only the third South African winner of the event. Has also won six times on the European Tour circuit, and consistent form has resulted in his Top 10 world ranking.
South African professional golfer, won the 2010 British Open Championship, the fourth South Africa to win the Claret Jug, following greats Bobby Locke, Gary Player and Ernie Els. Most recently (2012) successfully defended his title at the Africa Open. Has won four European Tour events.
Spanish professional noted for his length off the tee, Quiros was for years the longest driver on the European Tour, averaging nearly 310 yards. He won the 2010 Open de España and continued his success in 2011, winning the season-ending Dubai World Championship. Quiros is a six-time European Tour winner
Italian professional, current Malaysian Open champ and the youngest golfer to win a European Tour event. Manassero has set other impressive records, such as reigning as World No 1 Amateur many months before turning professional, and in 2010 became the youngest player ever to make the cut at the US Masters Tournament.