Manny, Thongchai confirm return

Matteo Manassero
Matteo Manassero won the Malaysian Open in 2011 

Kuala Lumpur: Italian sensation Matteo Manassero and Thai stalwart Thongchai Jaidee will have another tilt at the Seagram trophy after confirming their participation in the 53rd edition of the Maybank Malaysian Open next month.

The pair will join fellow former champions Lee Westwood and Louis Oosthuizen, when the US$2.75 million tournament tees off at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club (KLGCC) on April 18.

Young gun Manassero  upstaged Masters champion Charl Schwartzel and Rory McIlroy to win the title with a one-shot victory over Gregory Bourdy of France in 2011.

Since winning in Malaysia three years ago, Manassero has steadily moved up the world rankings and is now sits comfortably inside the world’s top 50 with four European Tour victories to his belt.

Three-time Asian Tour Order of Merit (OOM) winner Thongchai is another familiar figure at the national Open, having triumphed in 2004 and 2005.

Maybank chairman Tan Sri Datuk Megat Zaharuddin Megat Mohd Nor hoped that the confirmation of the four world class stars, who have a huge local following, will certainly give the 2014 event a big boost.

“We now have four former champions who have confirmed their participation for the Malaysian Open 2014. Manassero and Thongchai represent everything that’s good about golf. One is a youngster who knows no fear and goes out and attacks the course. The other knows patience is the key to winning and that has been one reason why Thongchai has lasted so long at the very top echelon of the sport.

“I expect a tough battle as not only all four have tasted glory in the Malaysian Open and will surely want to hold the prestigious trophy aloft once again, but other rising talents are steadily making their mark worldwide,” added Megat Zaharuddin.