Strong European cast for Malaysian Open

Simon Dyson in action during the Maybank Malaysian Open last year © GlobalOne

Kuala Lumpur: A host of proven European Tour winners have added their names to a star-studded field for the Maybank Malaysian Open 2012, which tees off next week from April 12 – 15.

The European Tour has co-sanctioned the prestigious National Open with the Asian Tour since 1999 and will once again parade an impressive cast of its leading players, who will battle it out at the resplendent Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club for some vital points on the season-long Race to Dubai as well a chance to earn a place on the European Ryder Cup Team.

Last week, event promoters confirmed that Brendan Grace, who claimed back-to-back victories in his native South Africa earlier in the year, will headline a top order line-up of 2012 champions featuring the likes of Rafael Cabrera-Bello (Omega Dubai Desert Classic), Jbe Kruger (Avantha Masters) Julien Quesne (Open de Andalucíá Costa de Sol) and Michael Hoey (Trophée Hassan II).

Leading the way is six-time European Tour winner Simon Dyson, who is hoping that the birth of his daughter earlier in March will reignite a return to the form he enjoyed last year when he clinched the KLM Open and Irish Open presented by Discover Ireland en-route to breaking into the world’s top 50.

Other players aiming to kick-start their 2012 campaigns include Frenchman Grégory Bourdy and Alexander Noren, who had strong finishes at the same venue last year.

Bourdy, the winner of the co-sanctioned 2009 UBS Hong Kong Open finished one stroke adrift of eventual winner Matteo Manassero last year while the Swede, who claimed two out of his three European Tour crowns last year, was tied fourth alongside Cabrera-Bello, three shots behind the winner.

Also making a welcome return to the National Open after a six-year hiatus is Englishman Ross Fisher. A four-time winner on The European Tour, the 32-year-old Fisher who has only made three starts this year, will seek to rediscover his form and will be unleashing his long drives to tackle the challenging West Course of KLGCC.

Arriving in Kuala Lumpur on the back of some strong showing is trio Soren Kjeldsen, Hennie Otto and Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts. With two top-five finishes at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic and Sicilian Open, the 37-year-old Kjeldsen will aim to better his finish last year when he took a share of 13th..

South Africa’s Otto, who ended a three-year wait for a European Tour victory when he clung on to claim his National Open last November is another play to hit form at the right time, coming out of back-to-back top-ten finishes at the Trophee Hassan II and the Open de Andalucia de Sol as he makes his maiden appearance at the Maybank Malaysian Open.

Making his third appearance at the premier championship is thirty-year-old Nicolas Colsaerts, who has been a revelation on Tour since graduating from the Challenge Tour in 2009. With one title to his name courtesy of winning the Volvo China Open last year, the Belgian sensation who has four top ten finishes so far this year, including a solid third placing at the Sicilian Open will aim to get another win in his belt in Asia with a strong display in Kuala Lumpur.

With exuberance of youth overcoming the guile of experience in the last two editions, it is no wonder that the exciting duo of Tom Lewis and Joost Luiten are among the surprise packages lining up to get their hands on the prestigious Seagram Trophy.

Having just turned 21 in January, England’s Lewis, who catapulted into the spotlight after a stunning performance as an amateur at The Open Championship at Royal St Georges last year before making a smooth transition into the paid ranks with a victory at Portugal Masters in only his third European Tour start, has the game and the right frame of mind to once again contend for his first co-sanctioned win.

And if the rain does indeed come into play as it has in previous editions, Luiten will relish the opportunity to claim an unique Malaysian double, having proved his mastery in wet conditions at the Iskandar Johor Open last November. The 24-year-old Dutchman posted a flawless round of 65 for a three-round total of 198, edging past overnight leader Daniel Chopra by one stroke to earn a valuable two-year exemption on the European Tour