Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Accuracy off the tee and sensible course management will be pre-requisites for success when the US$3 million Maybank Championship takes place over the Palm Course at Saujana Golf and Country Club.
That’s the view of a trio of players expected to contend for the title from February 9-12 at the club which celebrated its 30th anniversary last year and is a Golf Course Facility Member of the Asian Golf Industry Federation.
“Your positioning needs to be right off the tee and the greens are also tough,” said Danny Willett, the reigning US Masters champion. “It’s a really good test of every part of your game,” added the Englishman who played the course with guests from Saujana and Maybank in November.
Lee Westwood, Willett’s compatriot and fellow European Ryder Cup representative, is predicting a fair but difficult examination.
“I remember going back about 10 years and it’s certainly got harder over the years, no question,” said Westwood, a former Saujana Touring pro who was triumphant over the course in 1997.
He added: “You’ve got to be accurate from the tee, there are plenty of hazards and the greens are tricky. If you don’t have every aspect of your game on form at Saujana, you won’t compete – it’s as simple as that.”
Spearheading the local challenge will be Gavin Green, ASEAN ambassador for Maybank.
“The tee shots are tough and trying to keep the ball in play (is crucial). The greens look like they are going to be challenging too as many of them are undulating,” said Green, who recently fired a six-under-par 66 over the course during a social round.
So, what attributes will the contenders require?
Green said: “Keeping the tee shots in the short grass as much as possible and playing accurate iron shots. Someone who is long and straight off the tee will have an advantage. Management on the course is very important.”
As well as staging the World Amateur Golf Team Championships in 2002, Saujana has hosted many professional events including The Open International Final Qualifying Asia (2004, 2005 and 2010) and the Malaysian Open on nine occasions between 1988 and 2009.
In 2012, the Ron Fream-designed layout was named as the world’s sixth toughest golf course by CNNGo.
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