ITALIAN Matteo Manassero and Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee will join Lee Westwood and Louis Oosthuizen when the Maybank Malaysian Open 2014 tees off at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club (KLGCC) from April 17-20.
All four former champions are title sponsor Maybank’s confirmed Star Players for this year’s Maybank Malaysian Open which offers a prize purse of US$2.75 million.
Young gun Manassero, who won the 2011 title two days before his 18th birthday, turns 21 on April 19, is hoping for another special celebration in Malaysia.
The Italian is the youngest golfer to win a European Tour event having won the Castello Masters Costa Azahar in Valencia, Spain on May 3, 2010.
Since winning in Malaysia three years ago, Manassero has steadily moved up the world rankings and is now inside the top 50 with four tournament victories to his name.
Thongchai, meanwhile, is a three-time Asian Tour Order Of Merit (OOM) winner and a two-time winner of the Malaysian Open, having triumphed in the 2004 and 2005.
A former paratrooper in the Royal Thai Army, Thongchai has 16 career wins to his name, including five on the European Tour.
Former world number one Westwood of England, who won the Malaysian Open in 1997, was announced as the bank’s first Star Player early last month while Major winner Oosthuizen confirmed his participation at the end of February.
The rising status and prestige of the Maybank Malaysian Open in recent years has been due to several factors, key among them is the excellent teamwork and relationship Maybank has with all the stakeholders involved in the event.
This close-knit relationship has a gone a long way in ensuring the immense success of the Malaysian Open. The level of excellence the event has attained is the reason world class stars continue to make their way to our shores each year.
Having these four world class stars, who have huge followings in Malaysia, will certain give the 2014 a big boost.
Maybank Chairman, Tan Sri Dato’ Megat Zaharuddin Megat Mohd Nor, said, “We now have four former champions who have confirmed their participation for the Maybank Malaysian Open 2014.”
“Manassero and Thongchai represent everything that’s good about golf. One is a youngster who knows no fear and goes out and attacks the course. The other knows patience is the key to winning and that has been one reason why Thongchai has lasted so long at the very top echelon of the sport.
“I expect a tough battle as not only all four have tasted glory in the Maybank Malaysian Open and will surely want to hold the prestigious trophy aloft once again, but other rising talents are steadily making their mark worldwide.”
Malaysian Golf Association (MGA) president Tan Sri Dato’ Setia Mohd Anwar Mohd Nor said he hopes the four former champions will inspire the Malaysian players.
“I hope our 22 Malaysians will learn from this quartet and rise to the challenge to reach the top.” said Tan Sri Dato’ Setia Mohd Anwar.
The Maybank Malaysian Open was the first tournament in Asia to be co-sanctioned by The European and Asian Tours in 1999, the year Gerry Norquist took home the title.