Charl Schwartzel arrived in style for the third round of the Maybank Malaysian Open, landing a short walk from the first tee in a helicopter - an Augusta 109 Grand which retails at a cool US$8Million. As a man who has earned his pilot's licence and has a passion for all things flying-related, the South African was in his element for the short trip from the hotel in the centre of Kuala Lumpur. Schwartzel sat in the front seat with the pilot as they flew over the Petronas Towers - once the tallest buildings in the world - out over the mountains and back to Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club. And at two shots off the lead at the halfway stage, he was flying in the tournament as well.
The flag on the 18th hole during rounds three and four of the Maybank Malaysian Open will be the national flag of Malaysia, so a particular code of conduct had to be explained to caddies beforehand. In Malaysia – and in many countries around the world – it is not considered good etiquette to put the national flag on the floor or the ground, so instead of placing the pin down while their players putt, the caddies must hand it to a Maybank representative handily placed at the back of the green. Given the Queen of Malaysia has been at Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club this week, let’s hope everyone remembers to do so.
Thunderstorms are inevitable in this part of the world, and the mid-afternoon downpour – sometimes accompanied by lightning – runs like clockwork. But there’s no need to worry about boredom in the event of a delay at Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club, as there are numerous ways to keep entertained – just head down to the basement to a bowling alley, a cinema complete with huge leather armchairs, a pool table and a video games room. Englishmen Tommy Fleetwood and Chris Wood tried out the bowling alley earlier in the week – check out the video HERE
Donald on unfamiliar territory
It’s not often we see the affable Englishman on Asian soil, but Luke Donald is headlining the Maybank Malaysian Open this week as he looks to get his game in peak shape for the Masters in three weeks’ time. It is the first time the former World Number One has played in the event, and he’s certainly looking forward to it. At his preview press conference he was asked what he made of a 14 year old playing in the upcoming Masters Tournament, and what he was doing at the same age. “Walking back and forth from school and wondering what I was going to do with my life,” he said. “To be playing at Augusta at 14 is pretty amazing.”
Harrington driven mad
You might think it wouldn’t matter what club a professional golfer used; their swings are so good they’d be able to hit it well with pretty much anything. Not so Padraig Harrington, who is desperate to find a driver he feels as comfortable with as his old favourite, which unfortunately broke last week. He thought he’d found a suitable replacement last weekend on the driving range, only for it to misbehave when he was on the course, so he’s desperate to sort out the problem in Kuala Lumpur this week. The Irishman is renowned for tinkering with his game and leaves no stone unturned in his quest for more victories. He’s even started wearing glasses to play despite having 20-20 vision, as a way to help him read the greens more accurately.
Kuala Lumpur is a truly magnificent city, but, like any metropolis, it often struggles with traffic jams in rush hour. The players need not worry about missing their tee time though, as the hourly shuttle bus from the hotel to the golf course every morning has a police escort to ensure a passage through the thousands of commuting cars. The two motorbikes are worth their weight in gold, although they are not always to the liking of other drivers who are asked to move over to let the bus through…