Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Two US Masters champions will grace the fairways of the Saujana Golf and Country Club at the US$3 million Maybank Championship 2017.
Joining reigning Masters champion Danny Willett at the tournament from February 9-12 will be Charl Schwartzel, who claimed his first Major at Augusta National Golf Club in 2011.
The award-winning Saujana venue is a Golf Course Facility Member of the Asian Golf Industry Federation.
Englishman Willett got his year off to a flying start by winning February’s Omega Dubai Desert Classic and two months later he picked up his biggest career win to date at the Masters Tournament. He finished the season in second place in the Race to Dubai Rankings after another four top-10 finishes.
He was part of the victorious Team Europe at the EurAsia Cup in Kuala Lumpur in January, made his Ryder Cup debut in October and represented Team GB at the Rio Olympics.
Willett said: “I am delighted to confirm my participation in the Maybank Championship 2017. It’s always great to be back in Malaysia and I have some great memories of my past appearances in Kuala Lumpur. I’ve played pretty nicely here in the past so I will definitely be coming to Saujana with confidence and aiming to put in a strong performance.
“Being here has given me a chance to see how the course is playing and it was fun being out there with some guests from Maybank and Saujana. I am really looking forward to coming back to compete next year.”
Of his forthcoming appearance in the Malaysian capital, 32-year-old South African Schwartzel said: “The Maybank Championship is one of the marquee events in Asia for the European Tour so I am really looking forward to being there. Travelling to Asia and Kuala Lumpur is always a favourite trip among the players. Maybank does a great job for the players.
“The 2017 season has started well for me so I am feeling good about the year ahead and am excited to see what I can do when I get to Malaysia in February.”
Asian favourite Anirban Lahiri is also set for the Saujana showdown. He enjoyed a memorable 2015 season when he won the Maybank Malaysian Open and followed it up two weeks later with victory at the Hero Indian Open.
He became the first Indian to finish in the top five of a Major when he shared fifth place at the 2015 US PGA Championship and he made his Presidents Cup debut in the same year. He was crowned Asian Tour Order of Merit champion in 2015.
Lahiri, who holds a PGA Tour card, said, “Malaysia has been a very important place for me and my career. It’s where I got my first European Tour win and I would love to get back to winning ways when I return for the Maybank Championship in February.
“The fans gave me a lot of support to help me with that win. I want to get 2017 off to a strong start and I am hoping those winning memories can give me an edge against what will be a very tough line-up.”
Joining the field will be a number of local players, including top Malaysian amateur Daeng Abdul Rahman Abdul Aziz.
Earning his spot thanks to his World Ranking of 414, Daeng was also given an invite to the recent PGM Maybank Players’ Championship where he finished in fourth position. This will be his first appearance at the Maybank Championship but he has played with big names on home soil before.
Daeng said: “I am not too nervous about next year as I’ve played with some top players before. But it depends who I get to play with. I am excited about meeting Danny Willett, though. I haven’t played Saujana since the renovation so I am looking forward to that and my caddie is from there so that will hopefully be an advantage.”
Also securing his spot as a local entry is Ben Leong who claimed victory at the PGM Maybank Players’ Championship in a play-off against Maybank ASEAN golf ambassador Gavin Green. It was his fourth PGM victory in a row.
Leong said, “The Maybank Championship is a big goal for me. As a local player it means a lot to get the opportunity to be a part of it. I am going to spend some time playing at Saujana to work out what my best game plan will be.”
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