Asians aim to regain winning tradition at Malaysian Open

Kuala Lumpur, March 15: The Asian Tour stars are aiming to uphold an impressive winning tradition when the $2.75 million Malaysian Open gets underway at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club next week.

In the past nine seasons, Asian Tour members have lifted the Seagram Trophy on six occasions, with Thai Thongchai Jaidee winning back-to-back titles in 2004 and 2005.

However, the last victory by an Asian Tour star was in 2010 when Noh Seung-yul of Korea produced a remarkable birdie from the practice putting green on the 72nd hole to win the event by one shot from countryman K.J. Choi. He went on to become the youngest Order of Merit champion on the region’s premier Tour.

Since then, Matteo Manassero of Italy and South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen have won in 2011 and 2012, respectively.

The tide could very well shift to another Asian champion next week as six Asian Tour Order of Merit winners including 46 Tour champions will make their way to the event.

The in-form Anirban Lahiri of India, who won the SAIL-SBI Open on home soil last week, and Chawalit Plaphol of Thailand, winner of the season-opening Myanmar Open, are among the talented cast of Asian stars vying for honours here from March 21-24.

Lahiri, a three-time Asian Tour winner, is looking for a first victory outside India and is determined to follow in the footsteps of countryman Arjun Atwal, who won the Malaysian Open in 2003 and 2008.

“There’s a need to win always and to get better. There’s a need to perform on every surface on every tour and on every condition. A lot of people ask me questions if I can play abroad and yes I feel I can win abroad as well,” said Lahiri.

“It is just a matter of the 72 holes coming together and having some luck as well. I’m hoping to win outside India this year but I won’t mind if I win in India again.”

Other stars from Asia heading here include Japan’s Tetsuji Hiratsuka, India’s Gaganjeet Bhullar, Arnond Vongvanij of Thailand, Sri Lanka’s newcomer Mithun Perera, American Berry Henson and Australia’s Scott Barr.

IANS