Shah Alam [SELANGOR]: Arie Irawan is thanking his lucky stars after snagging a late entry into next week’s Maybank Championship – bringing the total number of local representatives up to 15.
The strapping 26-year-old will line up alongside Asian Tour regulars Nicholas Fung, Danny Chia, Ben Leong and Gavin Kyle Green as part of a 156-strong field that will tussle for a share of the USS$3 million purse on offer at the Palm Course of Saujana Golf & Country Club.
The other Malaysians in the mix are Nachimuthu Ramasamy, Sukree Othman, Khor Kheng Hwai, Airil Rizman Zahari, Sasidaran Muthiah, Kemarol Baharin, Iylia Jamil, Low Khai Jei, Sivachandhran Supramaniam as well as the country’s top-ranked amateur Daeng Abdul Rahman Abdul Aziz
Speaking from Dhaka where he is playing in the Bashundhara Bangladesh Open, Arie was in an upbeat mood over the late invite by title sponsor Maybank.
“I just have to thank [Maybank chairman] Tan Sri Dato’ Megat Zaharuddin Megat Mohd Nor for giving me this priceless opportunity to compete in one of Malaysia’s most prestigious golf tournaments,” said the two-time Asian Development Tour (ADT) winner.
“I am looking forward to compete with the best players in the world and giving it my best shot. I’m happy with how my new swing regime in progressing and I hope to rise to the occassion.”
The former national took the chance to get some much-needed practice at the challenging tract and hopes his initiative will pay dividends next week.
“I wasn’t sure about the invite to be honest, but I didn’t want to be caught off-guard. I managed to get some course homework done before heading to Bangladesh and hopefully, I will have the numbers dialled in,” he noted.
WESTWOOD SET FOR SAUJANA
European Tour stalwart Lee Westwood became the latest player to put his name into the hat for a shot at the Tiger awarded to the winner of the championship.
The 43-year-old, who famously won the first of his two Malaysian Open titles at Saujana in 1997, is relishing the opportunity to re-kindle his love affair with the famed Cobra.
“I was proudly associated with Saujana for a long time and it’s always great to go back because there are a lot of people that I’m still close with. That’s where the welcome stops though because the course is very tough! It’s changed a lot over the last 20 or so years. It’s hard to believe it’s been that long but hopefully I can repeat what I did back in 1997.”
The co-sanctioned tournament will also boasts a cast of in-form winners from both the European and Asian Tours, namely Tommy Fleetwood (Abu Dhabi Championship), Graeme Storm (BMW South African Open), Sam Brazel (UBS Hong Kong Open) as well as Prayad Marksaeng (SMBC Singapore Open) and Todd Sinnott (Leopalace21 Myanmar Open).