Top players for Maybank Championship

The RM12.3m Championship scheduled for March 21-24 will have a strong 13-member Malaysian contingent

A STRONG local contingent is expected to make an impact when new and improved Saujana greens are put to the test in the country’s premier golf tournament. Malaysia’s representation in this year’s Maybank Championship appears to be as good as it has ever been in a big international tournament.

The US$3 million (RM12.33 million) Championship scheduled for March 21-24 at the Saujana Golf and Country Club will have a strong 13-member Malaysian contingent, spearheaded by the country’s top-ranked Gavin Kyle Green.

Aside from Green, two other local pros, namely Ben Leong and Nicholas Fung, are in the line-up by virtue of their showing on the Asian Tour.

The other home stars selected are Professional Golf of Malaysia (PGM) Tour Player of the Year Shahriffuddin Ariffin, Danny Chia, Amir Nazrin Jailani, Sukree Othman, Kim Leun Kwang, Arie Irawan Ahmad Fauzi, R Nachimuthu, Wilson Choo, Kenneth De Silva and Kemarol Baharin, who all qualified through the local rankings.

In naming the local stars at a media gathering, Malayan Banking Bhd (Maybank) independent non-ED Datuk R Karunakaran said, “The Maybank Championship is a unique tournament, truly one ‘Where the Best Meet’.”

“While it features the top 60 from each of the European and Asian Tours, and 15 from the world’s top 150, we have never neglected our commitment to support and develop local players.

“Hence, we have set aside places for the top 10 Malaysian golfers — so that they too can have the exposure of playing in a world-class event.”

The Championship event in the past three years has given Maybank a new and unexpected winner each year, added Karunakaran.

He is confident that the 2019 tournament will continue to be as thrilling, or even more so — not only based on the players who have confirmed, and the activities planned, but also because the Palm course is in great shape after its refurbishment.

(From left) Fung, Sukree, De Silva, Amir Nazrin, Kemarol, Kim, Choo and Chia were invited to participate in the media game

A Challenging Course

“Saujana is well-known for being a challenging course, so the revamped greens will surely add to the excitement.

“For Green, the Maybank Championship will present a good opportunity to make an impact, not only on his endeavours on the Europe Tour, but also the domestic game.

A lot is being expected also from Leong and Fung — both winners on the Asian Tour. The former played alongside Green in the World Cup in Melbourne, Australia, while Fung is generally regarded as among the most consistent of Malaysian players on the regional circuit.

Shahriffuddin, a multiple winner on the PGM Tour and a player who secured his first Asian Development Tour crown at the co-sanctioned Labuan Championship last August — en route to retaining his Order of Merit title — is another one to watch at Saujana.

The players, in general, have welcomed the improved conditions of the Palm course layout, also known as the Cobra course. This follows a refurbishment of the greens, which according to John Eu, CEO of GlobalOne, the promoter of the event, should reach at least 10.5ft (3.2m) on the Stimpmeter.

“We could, maybe get it up to 11.5ft during the tournament week,” he said. “This is mainly because the most significant improvements made in the refurbishment are centred on the 18 putting greens.

“What took place here was that the seed bed of all the greens was replaced with cleaner and slightly coarser, washed river sand. This was vitally important as it improved the porosity of the seedbed, which allows the greens to better accommodate our heavy annual rainfall.

“Other improvements included providing the greens with better morning sunlight and air circulation through selective pruning and the removal of trees and undergrowth, and selective sub-soil drainage on fairways and other closely mowed areas,” added Eu.

Global Presence

Maybank is among Asia’s leading banking groups and South-East Asia’s fourth-largest bank by assets. The Maybank Group has global presence covering Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines, Brunei, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, China, Uzbekistan, Myanmar, Laos, Pakistan, India, Saudi Arabia, Great Britain and the US.

The group offers an extensive range of products and services, which includes consumer and corporate banking, investment banking, Islamic banking, stock broking, insurance and takaful, and asset management. It has over 43,000 employees worldwide.

Excellent Track Record

GlobalOne (Emerald Evolution Holdings Sdn Bhd) is an executive lifestyle sports promoter creating sports event ownerships. It specialises in providing the full spectrum of sponsorship event management, and has an excellent track record in planning and delivering on PGA European Tour golf events for Malaysia (Maybank Malaysian Open), Singapore (Singapore Masters) and Indonesia (Indonesia Open) since 1999.

It has strong relations with sports governing bodies, the media and commercial sponsors and technical partners. It also assists clients in creating strategic, high-return, best practice sponsorship.

The company also forms and maintains a strong relationship with players’ managers in sourcing for the best players. In the past, it staged the highly successful and prestigious tournament in Asia — the Maybank Malaysian Open (2006-2015), which was co-sanctioned by the European Tour and the Asian Tour. — COURTESY OF GOLF MALAYSIA