Following a memorable run of results in the Middle East, Louis Oosthuizen will attempt to cement his position in the top ten in The Race to Dubai when The European Tour descends on South East Asia this week.
The South African arrives at the Saujana Golf and Country Club for the Maybank Malaysian Open looking to build on an outstanding start to the season which has seen him place in the top ten in the first four Tour events of 2009.
Having finished in a tie for tenth at the Joburg Open in early January, the 26 year old enjoyed consecutive second place finishes in Abu Dhabi and Qatar before sharing seventh at the Dubai Desert Classic a fortnight ago, elevating him to seventh in The Race to Dubai and 51st in the world rankings, just one spot away from a coveted spot at the Masters Tournament.
And after a week off at his home base in chilly Manchester, Oosthuizen is looking to get back into the groove in humid Kuala Lumpur.
“I am pretty confident, playing well for those three weeks although I didn’t do too much last week because it was snowing after I got back to Manchester,” the South African said.
“I played really well in those three tournaments. I have been working a lot on my swing and it came together those three weeks.
“I just want to go out there and enjoy it and if it happens, it happens. I think you play better if you don’t try to put too much pressure on yourself.”
Victory in Malaysia could see Oosthuizen move up to as high as second in The Race to Dubai although the South African is trying not to think too far ahead.
“The Dubai World Championship is a great thing for The European Tour and it would be nice playing in it although that would be a bonus,” he said.
“I don’t look at it saying that if I play this week, I can move up so many spots. I just play and do the best that I can do and it will just be a bonus to improve on the position that I’m in on The Race to Dubai.
“Of course, it’s a really nice position to be in and I really want to try to maintain it or even improve on it.”
The winner of the US$2 million tournament, which is co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour, stands to pocket nearly €260,000 in prize money and make a significant move in the Tour ranking as The Race to Dubai heats up.
One of those hoping to improve on his position is American Ryder Cup star Anthony Kim, who has yet to get on the board after being disqualified from the HSBC Champions for playing with an altered driver after accidentally tapping it on a sprinkler head.
The 23 year old, who finished tied for second at the US PGA Tour’s Mercedes-Benz Championship last month, is playing in South East Asia for the first time and had a favourable impression of Saujana’s Palm Course after playing in the Pro-Am.
“I enjoyed the course, it’s a little bit shorter than we are used over in the US but, like any other golf course if you make a few putts out here then low scores are possible.
“It does suit my game. If I can make those putts then I will have a lot of fun but at the same time there are a lot of those little palm trees that can come out and grab you.”
Simon Dyson feels that Kim is a leading contender but the Yorkshireman believes that two-time winner Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand is likely to be the man to beat this week.
“Obviously Anthony Kim will be the hot favourite but the other one I’ll be looking out for is Thongchai,” said Dyson, who has finished third in Malaysia the past two years.
“He likes it around here and I think he’s won two of the last three played at Saujana. Personally I think he’s the man to beat but I’m sure Anthony will have something to say about that.
“He’s a fantastic player and it’s good to have him over.”
Victory would see Thongchai join Australian Terry Gale as the only player to win the Malaysian Open three times and the Thai is determined to make an impression after disappointing performances in his last two appearances in the tournament.
“I’m feeling very good. I always like to play at Saujana. I’ve won twice here and I always like to come back to this golf course,” he said.
“At the last two Malaysian Opens, I missed the cut as I was sick and injured. But I’m well prepared for this week. I took last week off and I’m ready to go.”