Korean Teen wonder Joohyung Kim will resume his bid for a second Asian Tour title when he makes his maiden appearance at the Bandar Malaysia Open, which gets underway at the highly rated Kota Permai Golf and Country Club on Thursday.
The talented 17-year-old, who came close to winning in New Zealand last week before settling for fourth, hopes to make amends by putting up a strong title assault at the storied event, which returns to the Asian Tour this week after a four-year hiatus.
Kim made his mark on the region’s premier Tour when he claimed his breakthrough in India last November, just a month after securing his third victory on the Asian Development Tour (ADT) last season to earn his Asian Tour card for the remainder of the 2019 season.
Prior to his solid fourth-place finish in New Zealand, the talented Kim also enjoyed a fourth-place result at the Singapore Open in January to secure his berth at The 149th Open at St. George’s this July where he will be making his Major debut.
Order of Merit leader Wade Ormsby, who also came in top-10 in New Zealand last week, is looking to extend his fine form into the US$1 million event, which is sanctioned by the Asian Tour and in partnership with the Japan Golf Tour Organisation (JGTO).
The 39-year-old Australian endured a slight dip in form after winning his third Asian Tour title at the season-opener in Hong Kong but was pleased to rediscover his ‘A’ game just in time for his sixth appearance at the Malaysian Open, where he came in tied-11th in 2015.
Korea veteran Charlie Wi, who has won seven Asian Tour titles including the 2006 Malaysian Open, hailed the emergence of young talents such as Kim and reckoned they should be the players to look out for when the tournament gets underway on Thursday.
Wi returned to play on the Asian Tour after a five-year absence at the Hong Kong Open two months ago and came in tied-seventh. He denied Thai star Thongchai Jaidee of a record third straight victory in the event when he sank a 10-footer for birdie on the last to win by one shot in 2006.
The highly acclaimed Bandar Malaysia Open, which boasts a new tagline ‘Pride, Passion, Prominence’, is the flagship event for the Malaysian Golf Association (MGA).
Joohyung Kim (KOR)
I played well last week in New Zealand. I took a break before that and came back not knowing what to expect. Being in contention and having a chance to win last week was just great although it was not the day I wanted to have on Sunday.
But I have a lot of hopes for this week as well. I played a lot in Malaysia when I was playing on the Asian Development Tour (ADT) last year. To come back to Malaysia and playing on the main Tour now is really exciting for me.
The course is in great shape so I will just stick to the game plan and try to play the best that I can again this week. Driving the ball well will be the key for me. Keeping the ball in play and just working yourself around the golf course will be a huge advantage too.
I will try and stay hydrated out there. It’s really humid and hot. It’s fortunate enough for the Malaysian Open to happen given the virus crisis all over the world. I’m glad we all get to play this week.
Wade Ormsby (AUS)
It’s been a nice start to the year for me. Obviously, I had a great week in Hong Kong but didn’t play so well after that. It was a good return to form last week in New Zealand and I’m feeling good coming to Malaysia this week.
It’s always nice coming to play in Kuala Lumpur. We’ve played a lot of golf courses here and this week’s course is in great condition. The green complexes and there’s quite a bit of them so you need to be sharp around the greens here.
The course is actually not quite long which sets up well for me so I’ll just go about my business and see how it goes. You got to keep the ball in play.
It’s absolutely fantastic to have the Malaysian Open back on the schedule. It’s a great event. Seeing the trophy when we drove in this morning and seeing so many big names on it, it just feels great to be playing in such a storied event which has been around for a long time.
Charlie Wi (KOR)
I won the Malaysian Open a long time ago. I remember making a 10-footer on the last hole to win the tournament in 2006. It’s nice to be back playing in the same tournament again but I think it’s not about me anymore.
We have young players like Joohyung Kim. He’s such a great player and he has a bright future ahead. And Wade (Ormsby) is off to a good start and I wish him continued success. For me, I’m just happy to be back competing.
I haven’t played too much golf the last two and a half years. I had two kids who are 13 and 10 years old now so I was spending a lot of time with them. Getting older now, but I don’t want to say how old I am, I want to start playing a little more to get myself prepared.
It’s just nice to compete again. There’s still a lot of familiar faces and also there’s a lot of new faces and just to see and watch them play I think is enjoyable for me.
The last time I played at Kota Permai, I think Joohyung was not even born. It was in 2002 when Kevin Na won a tournament here. At that time, the trees were much smaller. And now when you drive in certain spots, the trees get in the way for your second shot so you have to strategically place your tee shots.
You have to be on the right side of the green too so I think it would be very challenging and I think it would be a good competition.