Johor Bahru: The fifth edition of the Iskandar Johor Open received a further boost today after the organisers confirmed that Camilo Villegas and Anthony Kim will headline the US$2 million (approximately RM6 million) championship from November 17 to 20 at Horizon Hills Golf & Country Club.
Both Villegas and Kim primarily play on the US PGA Tour and their participation will provide an interesting story line as they will go against some of the top European Tour players including defending champion Padraig Harrington as well as the crème of Asian professional golf in the prestigious championship co-sanctioned by the Asian and European Tours.
“We’re obviously delighted with the participation of Villegas and Kim in the Iskandar Johor Open this year. These two formidable players, together with reigning champion Harrington, certainly make an exciting line-up. We’re all looking forward to a memorable week of thrilling golf this November,” said Grant Slack, Vice President of the Golf Division, IMG.
One of the most popular stars around the globe, the 29-year-old Villegas who hails from Colombia, is a three-time winner on the US PGA Tour with his biggest career triumph coming at the Tour Championship in 2008. Villegas’ most recent victory came at the 2010 Honda Classic and he enjoyed a solid 2011 season with five top ten finishes.
“I’ve heard a lot about golf in this part of the world but have never had the chance to play in Malaysia. It will be something new to compete in the Iskandar Johor Open and from what I’ve heard, it will be a good field with Harrington and Kim among the leading players, not to mention, the line-up of top Asian players who will also be challenging that week,” said Villegas.
“I’m looking forward to competing in Johor and if everything comes together, I hope to end the year with a win,” added Villegas.
Unlike Villegas, Kim has had some experience competing in Malaysia as he played in the Malaysian Open in 2009 and finished tied 33rd. However, the American, who like Villegas has three wins on the US PGA Tour, will find the Iskandar Johor Open a totally different challenge altogether.
“I truly enjoyed my stay in Kuala Lumpur two years ago and am looking forward to the chance to visit Johor. It is great to get the opportunity to compete against top European and Asian players at the Iskandar Johor Open and I’ll be looking for a good week and hopefully a win,” said Kim who has seven top 25 finishes on Tour this year.
Villegas and Kim will be in the field of 156 players consisting of 67 players each from the Asian and European Tours, eight invites, eight local players and six qualifiers, all vying for the top purse of US$317,000 (approximately RM954,000).