The story of the Maybank Open is a rather confusing one involving sponsors, event organisers and both the European and Asian Tours. Together they couldn’t come up with a way of keeping the Malaysian Open going and compromised to bring a new tournament to Malaysia.
The inaugural Maybank Open was won last year by Scott Fraser and he is back in the field to try to defend his title. Fraser will feel confident about his chances but it’s going to take a huge performance for him to defend. Not only does he have to finish above the likes of Lee Westwood, Charl Schwartzel and Rafa Cabrera Bello but he’s got to do it at a different venue – the Palm Course at Saujana Golf and Country Club.
Fraser, and the rest of the field, will be faced with a tricky test when they get to Saujana. The Palm Course is a par 72 that measures 7,186 yards from the competition tees so it’s certainly not overly long. The course’s main defences are the tree lined fairways which will punish any overly wayward drive and the tiny greens. It’s hard enough to get safely aboard the putting surfaces but that’s far from the end of their challenge. They are heavily sloped and incredibly fast making it very tough to get aggressive and make those all-important birdie putts.
Westwood Can Make a Glorious Return
Lee Westwood is one of the most successful European players of all time. The 43-year-old has enjoyed success all over the world but he is particularly prolific in Asia. The very first of Westwood’s nine Asian Tour victories came at the 1997 Malaysian Open which was held at, you guessed it, Saujana Golf and Country Club.
This is a course that holds special memories for Westwood but now’s not the time to be living in the past. He’s in the sort of form that suggests another big week is in the offing. Westwood finished no worse than T23 during the Desert Swing so only a slight improvement is needed for another win in Malaysia at odds of 20/1 with Betfair.
Prolific Wang Worth Having on Side
Jeunghun Wang is only 21 but the South Korean sensation has already had a career that many pros would be happy with. Wang claimed the biggest of his three European Tour wins at the Qatar Masters a fortnight ago and many are tipping him to kick on and perhaps pick up a major championship in the future.
Wang is one of a number of exciting players coming out of South Korea and while he sees his future at the highest level, he’ll relish the chance to win on the Asian Tour again. At odds of 22/1 with Betfred, Wang’s a great each way bet.
Hot and Cold Li To Shine
Of all the players coming from the Far East, there is perhaps most expected of Haotong Li. The 21-year-old is trying hard to work on his game in the glare of the Chinese media but his development is such that he’s already won on the European Tour. The Palm Course should suit his ball striking and if he putts well BetVictor’s 66/1 will look too big to ignore.