Maybank Malaysian Open preview

The European Tour heads for Asia this week and the co-sanctioned Maybank Malaysian Open. Italy’s Matteo Manassero defends the title at Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club.

Matteo Manassero defends Malaysian Open (Getty Images)

Lowdown: The European Tour heads for Asia this week and the co-sanctioned Maybank Malaysian Open. Italy's Matteo Manassero defends the title at Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club. The Malaysian Open was the first ever tournament to be co-sanctioned by the European and Asian Tours back in 1999. Since then winners of the Malaysian Open have included Fiji's Vijay Singh and Thongchai Jaidee from Thailand who won in 2004 then successfully defended his title the following season. Last year, teenage sensation Matteo Manassero played four superb rounds of golf to finish one clear of Gregory Bourdy and two ahead of Rory McIlroy. The Italian was not the first teenager to taste success in this event; the 2010 tournament was won by 18-year-old Noh Seung-yul. A strong field has assembled for this year's tournament and there are no less than five Major champions on the start sheet. After his near-miss at Augusta, Louis Oosthuizen has made the journey to Kuala Lumpur as has his countryman, 2011 Masters champion Charl Schwartzel. Former World Number 1 Martin Kaymer will also tee it up. The course at Kuala Lumpur G&CC was originally designed by Nelson Howarth and opened for play in 1991. But, the track was totally reconstructed for the 2010 Malaysian Open, although the routing and layout remained the same. The weather forecast for the week is unsettled and each day there looks like being a threat of thunderstorms. Look for there to be at least one weather delay.

Venue: Kuala Lumpur G&CC, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Date: Apr 12-15 Course stats: par 72, 7,000 yards Purse: €1,907,000 Winner: €314,700 Defending Champion: Matteo Manassero (-16)

TV Coverage: Thursday 12 - Live on Sky Sports 1 from 7am Friday 13 - Live on Sky Sports 1 from 7am Saturday 14 - Live on Sky Sports 3 from 8pm Sunday 15 - Live on Sky Sports 1 from 4.30am

Player Watch: Louis Oosthuizen - The South African is on superb form, as confirmed by his runner-up finish at Augusta. His swing looks effortless and his putting razor-sharp. Look for him to go low here this week.

Rafael Cabrera-Bello - The Spaniard posted a top-10 in this event last year and already has a victory to his name this season - the Dubai Desert Classic.

Martin Kaymer - Another of the class players in the field, Kaymer finished well in Kuala Lumpur in 2011. He's looking to get back to his best and this week could provide a springboard to do just that.

Key hole: 14th. It may be only 358 yards long but, with a heavily bunkered fairway, and a tricky approach over a lake, it's a hole that will require a careful and strategic approach.

Skills required: Staying dry. There's quite a bit of water to contend with, particularly on the back nine. If the trouble is successfully avoided then low scoring will be possible. Charlie Wi won here in 2006 with a 19-under-par total. Where next? PGA Tour - RBC Heritage preview

Fergus Bisset
Contributing Editor

Fergus is Golf Monthly's resident expert on the history of the game and has written extensively on that subject. He is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and his passion for the sport was bolstered during his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and the history section of "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin , also of Golf Monthly. 

Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?