Garcia, Thongchai to headline Iskandar Johor Open

Sergio Garcia ©Getty

Johor Bahru: European Ryder Cup hero Sergio Garcia and three-time Asian Tour Order of Merit winner Thongchai Jaidee will star in the Iskandar Johor Open presented by Iskandar Waterfront from December 13 to 16. 

The US$2 million (RM6.2 million) Asian Tour season finale will be staged for the third consecutive year at the award-winning Horizon Hills Golf and Country Club.

The Iskandar Johor Open was officially launched on Monday by Johor chief minister Dato’ Abdul Ghani Bin Othman. Also present during the press conference hosted by the Johor Golf Association were its president Tunku Abdul Majid Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar, Asian Tour executive chairman Kyi Hla Han and IMG’s vice president of golf division Grant Slack.

“With much at stake as the season-ending event on the Asian Tour, we are anticipating one of our strongest line-ups ever. The coveted Asian Tour Order of Merit crown will be decided at the Iskandar Johor Open and therefore, the results at Horizon Hills will have a big impact on who becomes the new Asian Tour number one,” said Ghani.

Garcia, who has 23 victories around the world and secured a crucial singles victory over Jim Furyk in Europe’s stunning victory over the United States in the recent Ryder Cup, will make his first ever appearance in Malaysia at the tournament.

“Playing in the Iskandar Johor Open this year will mark my first time playing in Malaysia so I’m very keen to see what the course and country are like. I enjoy playing in Asia and have had some good results in that part of the world so I hope I can continue my current form to produce a good performance in December,” said the Spaniard.

Decorated Thai star Thongchai, who has won an unprecedented three Asian Tour Order of Merit crowns on the back of 13 victories is enjoying a spectacular season thus far following his first victory on European soil where he won the ISPS Handa Wales Open in June.

“I have won the Malaysian Open title twice previously and I always enjoy competing in Malaysia. It will be my goal to try to win the Iskandar Johor Open in December,” he said.

Han expects a thrilling conclusion to the 2012 Asian Tour season at the sixth edition of the marquee event. “The Iskandar Johor Open has grown immensely since its inauguration in 2007 as a US$300,000, thanks largely to the fantastic support from the Johor State Government and Johor Golf Association.

“Our players always enjoy competing in Johor and we look forward to a successful conclusion to our 2012 season where we will crown the new Asian Tour Order of Merit champion.”

Last year’s event saw Dutchman Joost Luiten claim the prestigious Iskandar Johor Open trophy and his maiden professional victory. He went home with the winner’s cheque of US$333,330, which propelled him to his highest world ranking position of 66th in the world.

Two key local sponsors for the 2012 edition are returning to support the event once again. Iskandar Waterfront Development is the presenting partner for the second year while UEM Land is continuing their association with the event for the fifth year running as platinum partners.