Fresh from their exploits in the Masters Tournament, former champions Louis Oosthuizen and Lee Westwood will this week return to regular European Tour duty at the Maybank Malaysian Open.
Having finished in seventh and 25th place respectively at Augusta National, Westwood and Oosthuizen will head to the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur in fine fettle for the 53rd edition of the US$2.75 million event.
Westwood, who won the Maybank Malaysian Open in 1997 before the event became part of The European Tour International Schedule two years later, will be making his first visit to Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club for seven years.
Westwood’s last European Tour victory came at the 2012 Nordea Masters but after rediscovering his form last week, when he finished seven shots behind winner Bubba Watson, the Englishman will be a leading contender to succeed Kiradech Aphibarnrat as champion.
Oosthuizen claimed the title in 2012, a week after he came agonisingly close to winning the Masters, where he lost in a play-off to Watson. The South African immediately bounced back from his near-miss by securing a three-shot victory over Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher.
Oosthuizen will be hoping to continue his fine form in the event, having also finished in a tie for seventh place behind American Anthony Kang in 2009.
He said: “It was disappointing to finish like I did in the Masters, but my putter just went cold on the back nine on the last day. I was swinging it well enough for the most part, so hopefully I can carry that form onto Malaysia and have another good week there.”
Other notable names in the illustrious field include two-time champion Thongchai Jaidee and Italy’s Matteo Manassero, who triumphed as a fresh-faced 17 year old in 2011.
Garrick Porteous, like Manassero a winner of the Amateur Championship, will continue his golfing education after receiving an invitation to tee up in the tournament.
The young Englishman acquitted himself commendably in the Masters, and will be hoping to build on his top 15 finish in the Alfred Dunhill Championship at the start of the season.
Big-hitting Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts, one of the stars of The 2012 Ryder Cup, will be hoping to return to winning ways after a lean spell of late, whilst Aphibarnrat will be aiming to become the first player to successfully defend the title since his compatriot Jaidee in 2005.
The Maybank Malaysian Open was the first tournament in Asia to be co-sanctioned by The European and Asian Tours in 1999.