Kuala Lumpur: World number three Luke Donald will headline an all-star cast when he makes his debut at Maybank Malaysian Open this week.
The globe-trotting Englishman arrived Tuesday on the back of a fourth placing at Tampa Bay Championship on the US PGA Tour and will be bidding to secure his eighth European Tour title when he tees off alongside three-time Major champion Padraig Harrington, 2011 Maybank Malaysian Open champion Matteo Manassero and Charl Schwartzel, the 2011 Masters Tournament at the Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club.
The 52nd national Open is Donald’s first event on his Race to Dubai schedule and the 35-year-old is aware that 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 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,” said Donald.
Having headed straight to the course after landing in Kuala Lumpur, Donald would be forgiven for being jaded but the first man to win the money lists in Europe and US in 2011 is surprising fresh and raring to go.
“Any time you have a 12-hour time difference, there’s a fair amount of adjusting to do, but I’ve travelled a lot as a golfer and that has certainly helped me become a global player, learning how to deal with different courses, different grasses and different types of competition,” shared Donald, who admitted to spending much time on plane just sleeping.
“I haven’t been on the course yet, but I’ve heard great things about it. 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.”
A bespectacled Harrington will play without his trusted driver but he is hoping that a new pair of glasses will give him a clear vision of the Seagram trophy which goes to the winner.
“I have 20-20 vision without glasses, so it’s not a problem with that. I have a slight Astigmatism which causes me to struggle to read the greens. So that’s essentially why I’m wearing them. I’m experimenting with different ones and this pair seems to be good,” said Harrington, who has fond memories of Malaysia, having won the 2010 Iskandar Johor Open and finishing second behind Vijay Singh of Fiji at the 2001 Malaysian Open.