Donald plays Maybank Malaysian Open

BY European Tour | Asian Tour | 2013 Maybank Malaysian Open | Preview | 20 Mar 2013

The Asian and European Tour join forces once again this week when the Maybank Malaysian Open is played at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club in Malaysia’s capital city.

World Number Three Luke Donald will headline an all-star cast when he makes his debut in the event, which carries an increased prize fund of US$2.75million.

Donald, who finished in fourth place in last week’s Tampa Bay Championship presented by EverBank on the US PGA Tour, will be bidding to secure his eighth victory on The European Tour, his first since he successfully defended his BMW PGA Championship title last year.

Interestingly for a golfer of his standing his previous best finish in a tournament held in Asia and jointly sanctioned by The European and Asian Tours was tied sixth in the 2005 BMW Asian Open.

It is Donald’s first appearance in a ‘regular’ European Tour event since finishing in a tie for third in the season-ending DP World Tour Championship, Dubai last November, and he is returning to top form approaching an important stage of the season.

“The results in my first couple of events weren’t as I’d have liked, but last week there was a lot of improvement,” he said. "I’ve felt a lot more comfortable with my game in the last couple of weeks, and had a lot more in control of the golf ball. I had a lot more chances and had a decent chance to defend my title.

“I came up a little short in the end, but the game feels like it’s trending in the right direction. We’ve got the Masters in a few weeks’ time and I’m excited about that.

“I’ve heard great things about the course here. It’s in great shape and has some good elevation changes. There have been a couple of really good winners here in the last couple of years – Louis (Oosthuizen) last year and Matteo (Manassero) a couple of years ago. So I’m excited to get out there.”

The Englishman will be joined at Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club, in Malaysia’s capital city, by Major Champions Charl Schwartzel of South Africa and Ireland’s Padraig Harrington, as well as Italy’s Matteo Manassero, who succeeded his fellow teenager Noh Seung-yul as the winner two years ago.

Schwartzel, who has been in scintillating form so far this season, will be looking to improve on his sixth place finish in last year’s tournament.

Schwartzel said: “The Malaysian Open is definitely one of my favourite tournaments of the year. I love everything about Asia – the food, the people, the culture and the great golf courses. So I’m excited about going back to KL.”

Last week’s winner in New Delhi, Thomas Aiken is a good chance to make it two in a row while Thongchai Jaidee heads the large group of Asian Tour players, the two time winner of this event now ranked 59 in the world.

Rafael Cabrera Bello has played this event well in the past two years and has been playing well enough of late for him to be some sort of chance.

The Australian line-up is large in numbers and headed by the world’s 61st ranked player Marcus Fraser. Fraser has made his last sixteen cuts worldwide including a 5th place finish in Dubai and is well placed to lead the Australians.

Scott Hend had a great week last week in India when he finished 6th and did well in the event last year when 11th.

Richard Green will also play the event, just his second of the year after a good finish to 2012.

Kieran Pratt, Darren Beck, David Gleeson, Scott Barr, Andrew Dodt, Wade Ormsby, and Marcus Both are other Australians in the field.

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