Captains to lead star-studded Maybank Championship field

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Padraig Harrington has won in Malaysia previously - the 2010 Iskandar Johor Open

KUALA LUMPUR: Major winners Ernie Els and Padraig Harrington will be among the top attractions at the Maybank Championship at Saujana Golf & Country Club on March 21-24, 2019.

Els, the current Presidents Cup International captain and Harrington, who will lead Europe in the 2020 Ryder Cup, will join defending champion Shubhankar Sharma and Malaysian trail-blazer Gavin Green as part of the formidable field that will have players drawn from around the world, including a contingent from the ASEAN region.

The 156-field make-up embraces an all-new category for this tournament – with 15 players from the top 150 of the Official World Golf Ranking – qualifying solely on merit. They join another 60 players drawn from both the Asian Tour and European Tour.

A string of players from Australia, China, New Zealand, and South Korea – some of them with an eye on making the Presidents Cup team later this year – will also add significantly to the international composition of the tournament.

Ernie Els

But it is the inclusion of Els and Harrington that will capture the imagination of the fans as they await the fourth edition of the Maybank Championship, which will offer a prize purse of US$3 million – the richest of its kind in Southeast Asia.

“The inclusion of the game’s most active global player Ernie ‘Big Easy’ Els, as well as three-time Major winner and recently appointed European Ryder Cup captain, Padraig Harrington, underscores our objective to feature some of the best players in the world at this premier golf tournament,” said Maybank group president and chief executive Datuk Abdul Farid Alias.

“Having our defending champion, Shubhankar Sharma, Maybank’s ASEAN ambassador Gavin Green, Japan’s prince of golf Ryo Ishikawa and ‘Babyface Assassin’ Poom Saksansin in the field, also reaffirms our objective of providing a platform for Asian stars to shine.

“There is no doubt they will add tremendous character to the championship, even by just being here in Kuala Lumpur. But that is not all. The tournament will showcase not only the best in golf but also present a strong essence of our event DNA with delightful cuisine and lifestyle elements of the most exquisite tastes at the week-long event.

Sharma was a worthy winner of “The Tiger Trophy” last year, and he has used his Maybank Championship success to forge his way to the top of the Asian Tour Habitat for Humanity Order of Merit.

The Indian star’s victory at Saujana also helped catapult him up the world rankings and into The Masters Tournament, four World Golf Championships events and earn his PGA Tour card in the process.

Green also earned him full playing rights on the European Tour in 2018 and will similarly be aiming to get his season off to a sound start.

“This is Maybank’s flagship golf tournament, and for us who are playing on home soil, we all want to do our best and put that extra bit of effort into it,” noted the xx-year-old.

“It is a European Tour co-sanctioned event, and because of that, it features some of the world’s leading players, making it even more difficult to win. But we will give it our shot and see what happens.”