Our man at Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club brings you the second instalment of the action from behind the scenes at the Maybank Malaysian Open.
View from above
One of the great perks of Tour life is the amazing sights experiences we encounter on our journey around the world. There was no better example of this than on Wednesday night when Slice of the Action accompanied four of our star players here this week, Martin Kaymer, Rory McIlroy, Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel, on a trip to Malaysia’s most famous landmark, the Petronas Towers. The 88-storey building is 452 metres high and dominates the Kuala Lumpur skyline. It was once the tallest building in the world after opening in 1998. In other words, it’s a pretty daunting structure to ascend for those of us with more than a passing fear of heights. Special permission was granted for our party to take an exclusive after hours tour of the famous skybridge, which connects the twin towers, and the 86th floor observatory deck. Such is the prestige and exclusivity of this building that all four players were required to be smartly suited for dinner with dignitaries from Maybank, out title sponsor. For Charl, that meant another chance to don the Green Jacket he won in Augusta. Now, this might be one for all the anoraks out there, but given the Petronas Towers remain one of the tallest structures on the planet, could that be the highest point the Green Jacket has ever been (obviously discounting the numerous airplane flights taking by Masters Champions with their prize possession)? Answers on a postcard…
Rors roars back
You have to hand it to Rory McIlroy for his opening round here. After the events of Sunday at the Masters, followed by a gruelling round the world trip and no practice round due to his club’s not making the last leg of his journey to Malaysia, a 69 was rather impressive. There was a lovely abandon about the 21 year old yesterday, not only in his game but in his post-round comments. “Other people are more upset than I am (about the Masters),” he told TV and other media reporters. “I’m going to have so many more chances to win majors. That’s not being big-headed or cocky. I just believe in myself.” Judging by the support and reaction of the crowd here at Kulala Lumpur Golf and Country Club and around the world, so do many others, Rory.
Giving up the need for speed
It might not be lost on the well observed sports fans among you but the Tour’s stars seems to have aligned with Formula One this year. Last week the Grand Prix was in Malaysia, where of course we are this week, and Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton et al have moved on to Shanghai this weekend for the Chinese Grand Prix, with our players due to follow for our own Volvo China Open. Fittingly, then, it was a massive motorsport fan who was in pole position here after the first round, with Swede Alex Noren firing a superb 64 to lead by two strokes. Alex had thought about coming out a little early to Malaysia to catch last week’s race but after two weeks away from competition, he decided to stay at home in Monaco to practice – a decision which looks to have paid off so far. Given his fast start, it looks like Alex will be out on the course on Sunday during the Chinese Grand Prix. Scheduling has also dictated that he will be playing in the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth when the Formula One behemoth moves to his back yard for the Monaco Grand Prix. Chatting after his round Alex joked that he was giving up on F1 because he never has chance to see it anymore. There could be some consolation next week though, when Lotus driver Heikki Kovalainen plans to make an appearance in the Pro-Am in China. Heikki is a good friend of fellow Finn and Tour player Mikko Ilonen, whom he also partnered in China last year.