The European Tour heads to Malaysia this week for the Maybank Malaysian Open at Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club. Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand is the defending champion.

Lowdown:
The European Tour heads to Malaysia this week for the Maybank Malaysian Open at Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club. Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand is the defending champion.

A week after the year’s first Major, a number of players who competed at Augusta have made the journey to Malaysia. Lee Westwood and Louis Oosthuizen are both on the start sheet. The South African was the champion in this event two seasons ago. Other star players teeing it up at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club include, Italy’s Matteo Manassero and Francesco Molinari, Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand and two Spaniards who have already won in 2014 – Pablo Larrazabal and Alejandro Canizares.

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 season, Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat held off a stellar chasing pack including Padraig Harrington, Charl Schwartzel and Edoardo Molinari to win by a shot and claim his first European Tour victory.

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 looks set to be hot and humid this week with the chance of thunderstorms over the weekend. Don’t be surprised to see some weather delays in this event.

Venue: Kuala Lumpur G&CC, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Date: Apr 17-20
Course stats: par 72, 6,967 yards
Purse: €1,995,000
Defending Champion: Kiradech Aphibarnrat (-13)

Player Watch:
Louis Oosthuizen – The South African won the Volvo Golf Champions at the start of the year and showed glimpses of his best form at Augusta last week. He won this event in 2012 so is clearly a fan of the course.

Pablo Larrazabal – He won in Abu Dhabi this year, confirming his ability against a quality field. He was tied sixth in this event last year.

David Horsey – He’s been one of the most consistent performers on the European Tour in recent months. In his last five starts he’s finished T10, T3, T8, T12, T12. He could be due a win.

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 requires 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.