MALAYSIA – THE INSIDE TRACK
Our man in Kuala Lumpur, Harry ‘The Hat’ Emanuel, feels scores will be in the 20-under range at The Maybank Malaysian Open.
For the third consecutive year The Maybank Malaysian Open is being played at a different venue.
The host course this year is the Kota Permai Golf and Country Club, which was also the venue for the Volvo Masters of Malaysia from 1998-2001, the Volvo Masters of Asia (Asian Tour Championship) in 2002 and 2004 and the Fortis International Challenge(World Cup Qualifier) in 2007.
The KPGCC is a par 72 course that plays 6,979 yards off the championship tees. It is a Ross Watson designed parkland course with water features on a number of holes but has an old style feel to it.
The weather will be warm as always, somewhere in the low thirties, but there has been five-and-a-half inches of rain in the last week including two inches in half an hour on Sunday night and the course will play soft.
Thunderstorms are very much a feature in this part of the world, and although the long term forecast shows decent weather for the first two days of the tournament the weekend looks set for thunderstorms.
Typically the buzzer will sound in the afternoon and the players will be off the course for up to an hour until the weather settles so expect the tournament to suffer delays.
The course has fairly narrow undulating fairways with bunkers at many of the landing zones, but plays a lot wider as the trees do not really come into play and the soft fairways means there is little roll.
The rough is patchy because it is a mixture of Bermuda and Zyoza and the Zyoza doesn’t grow quite as quickly. The Bermuda rough is set to four inches and lies can be very unpredictable. A little luck will be required but the rough will not be particularly penalising.
Most of the greens are severely undulating and many have ridges running through them placing an emphasis on accurate iron shots as hitting the wrong spot on the green will leave some treacherous putts to be made.
The weather conditions mean that the greens will not be that fast running around 10 on the stimpmeter and shots will hold.
The Bermuda greens at KPGCC are very grainy and tough to read.
Says Darren Clarke: “They are difficult. Here it (the grain) moves about quite a bit and the knowledge (of how to read them) can only come from years of playing on these types of greens.”
“There’s a lot to be said for local knowledge. The Asia Tours players are used to it more than the European Tour players and it benefits them.”
Expect the Asian Tour players to feature heavily again this week at the top of the leaderboard.
There are a lot of bunkers on the course and the unique design feature of this golf course are the concrete sleepers which run down the side of some of the them.
Don’t be surprised to see a few shots that could feature on ‘What happened next?’
The front nine is relatively flat compared to the back nine and the opening par five provides a good eagle opportunity. The second is a short par four which will play mid iron-short iron to set up a good birdie chance. The water will only come into play on the fourth when there is a back right pin location.
The par five seventh is reachable in two but many players will lay up as there is water in front of the green. Only a wayward drive will find the water on eight and the ninth is all uphill to a small green.
On the back nine the water definitely comes in to play on the fifteenth and sixteenth holes and tournaments have been lost on this finishing stretch in the past.
The par five eighteenth requires a long high accurate second shot to stay on the green in two and will prove no pushover.
With the soft conditions it will be target golf and there will be low scores. Simon Yates and Prayad Marksaeng share the course record on 63 and somebody will surely equal if not beat that it this week. Jeev Milkha Singh feels “players will shoot the lights out”.
The winning scores in the six, strokeplay events held here have been 9-under,18-under, 10-under, 17-under, and 16 and 14-under and this year could see a winning score in the low 20-unders
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