The European Tour heads to Malaysia this week for the Maybank Malaysian Open at Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club. World Number three Luke Donald headlines an extremely strong field.

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, Louis Oosthuizen, fresh off a runner’s-up finish at Augusta, showed the field a clean pair of heels as he cruised to a three-shot victory over Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher.

Oosthuizen is not back to defend his title, but countryman Charl Schwartzel will make a start. The on-form South African was sixth in this event last year. He will likely be second favourite behind Luke Donald who comes into this event on the back of a fourth place finish in last week’s Tampa Bay Championship.

“My game feels it’s heading in the right direction,” he said. “We’ve got the Masters in a few weeks’ time and I’m excited about that.”

There’s an increased prize-fund for this year’s tournament. Over €2,100,000 will be distributed amongst the field with over €350,000 going to the winner.

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.

Kuala Lumpur G&CC, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Date: Mar 21-24
Course stats: par 72, 6,967 yards
Purse: €2,130,000 Winner: €350,410
Defending Champion: Louis Oosthuizen (-17)

TV Coverage:
Thursday 21 – Sky Sports 1 from 6am
Friday 22 – Sky Sports 1 from 6am
Saturday 23 – Sky Sports 1 from 6am
Sunday 24 – Sky Sports 1 from 6am

Player Watch:
Thomas Aiken – The South African is a streaky player and, after a superb victory in last week’s Avantha Masters, he’ll look to push on with another good result here. He’s looking to win a place in the President’s Cup team and back-to-back victories would help his cause no end

David Howell – The Englishman is enjoying an extremely consistent season on the 2013 European Tour, having made the cut in each of his six starts. He’s knocking on the door of a return to the top of the pile. This might just be the week.

Victor Dubuisson – He was tied 11th in this event last year and tied ninth last week in the Avantha Masters. He has the talent to win this week.

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.

Where next?
PGA Tour –
Arnold Palmer Invitational preview