The 47th edition of the Malaysian Open is set to host a stellar line up of stars at Kota Permai Golf and Country Club, come 6 - 9 March 2008. Two of the featured players to ever out-play Tiger Woods, on a one on one basis, Darren Clarke and David Howell will be directly competing with leading Asian Tour stars including Thongchai Jaidee and Jeev Milkha Singh, to ensure that the best of world golf hits our local shores.
Adding to the competition are two young rising stars - teen prodigy, Rory McIlroy and Charls Schwartzel, both of which have dazzled the golfing fraternity with their many achievements.
These are just some of the world renowned players who will lead the challenge in this year's US$2 million Maybank Malaysian Open. In announcing the Star Players for this year's Maybank Malaysian Open, title sponsor Maybank's Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Datuk Johar Che Mat said, "The Maybank Malaysian Open continues to attract leading marquee players who are among the world's best professional golfers. We're excited with the participation of the star players like Darren Clarke, David Howell, Jeev Milkha Singh, Thongchai Jaidee, Rory McIlroy and Charls Schwartzel, all of which will act as a pull factor for golfing enthusiasts to the Open, next month".
Datuk Johar adds "Hopefully the participation of the quality of players that this event is attracting, will one day produce a Malaysian golf champion in the near future".
Darren Clarke heads the list as both a local crowd favorite and front runner to win Malaysia's most prestigious golf event. Back from a difficult 2007 which saw him dropping down the ranks, Clarke is set to find his form with a busy schedule in 2008 as he bids for a 5th successive Ryder Cup spot. "I really enjoyed playing in the Maybank Malaysian Open last year and I am looking forward to returning. With my game coming together this year, I definitely hope to be in the running to take the title" Darren Clarke says.
Englishman David Howell joins his fellow Ryder Cup team mate in the pursuit for a win in the Maybank Malaysian Open. Howell enjoyed a steady climb to the top of his profession and peaked in 2005 when he out played Tiger Woods on the final day, to win the HSBC Championship Tournament. In 2006, he captured the BMW Championship, making him the first English winner of the championship since Nick Faldo's record breaking fourth title in 1989.
After an injury marred 2007, Howell is looking forward to be back in form this year. "I have been working hard to get back to my best and I hope my new swing and improved fitness will help me return to form. I am looking forward to playing in Malaysia - the climate is great and the people are very hospitable" Howell says.
Spearheading the Asian field will be two-time Malaysian Open defending champion Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand and India's Jeev Milkha Singh. Thongchai almost became the first player to nearly make it 3 in a row at the Malaysian Open in 2006 when he finished 2nd and after a disappointment play last year, he would undoubtedly be looking to be at the top of the leader board on the final day.
Thongchai, one of Asia's best-ever players is a favourite among the locals. The two time Asian Tour Order of Merit winner has numerous accolades under his belt, with achievements such as '2004 Asia Tour Player of the year', '2005 Johnnie Walker Asian Player of the year', winner of the 2003 and 2006 Volvo Master of Asian Championship. Thongchai's achievements in 2007 are that he finished 8th and 58th on the Asian Tour and European Tour Order of Merit respectively, making him the leading Thai player on both tours. The highlight of his career year in 2007 includes finishing 2nd place at the UBS Hong Kong Open.
Jeev Milkha Singh became the first Indian golfer to qualify for the European Tour. In 2006, he played in 39 events and sealing a victory in the Volvo Masters and the Volvo China Open the same year to top the Asian Tour Order of Merit. "I have always felt at home playing in Asia. In the past few years, I have supported the Maybank Malaysian Open and look forward to returning to the tournament once again", Jeev says.
Adding to the star appeal, are up and coming stars, Rory McIlroy and Charls Schwartzel. Both youngsters have enjoyed tremendous successes which have propelled them to stardom at young age. Charls Schwartzel became the second youngest player to secure a European Tour card through the qualifying school when he was just 18 in age. By the age of 23, this young star celebrated three professional tour victories and sits within the top 100 of the Official World Ranking.
Teen prodigy, Rory McIlroy turned pro in 2007. At the age of two, he recorded a 40 yard drive and stuck a hole in one at the age of nine. At 16 years, McIlroy players his first professional European Tour event and in 2007, became the 2nd person to top the World Amateur Rankings in 2007. "I am looking forward to my debut at the Maybank Malaysian Open, and I hope to get my first professional win under my belt soo and break into the world's top 100 so I will be giving my all in this tournament', McIlroy says.
"The depth of the field in recent years just goes to show how the Maybank Malaysian Open continues to mature not just as the premium event within Malaysia but as an international event of the highest caliber," says Yang Amat Mulia Tunku Abdul Majid Iskandar, President of the Malaysian Golf Association.
"This year's Maybank Malaysian Open is building up to be a feast of top-quality golf and intense competition and other players will be announced very shortly." Yang Amat Mulia Tunku adds.
The Maybank Malaysian Open has been a major fixture on the Asian and European Tours since 1999, when it became the first National Open in Asia to be granted co-sanctioned status. Past champions include world No.2 and three-time Major winner Vijay Singh of Fiji and US-based Indian star Arjun Atwal.
The Maybank Malaysian Open will take place from 6-9 March, 2008 at Kota Permai Golf & Country Club and will be broadcast "live" to Asia, Europe and America and to over 650 million households around the world.
Tickets to the Maybank Malaysian Open 2008 can be purchased through the Ticket Charge website at www.ticketcharge.com.my or by calling the Ticket Charge hotline at 603 - 2241 9999.