Maybank Malaysian Open 2013
This is the 14th year this tournament has been co-sanctioned with the European Tour and it is getting better every year. The tournament up until recently had been dominated by Asian players, with the likes of Vijay Singh, Thongchai Jaidee and Charlie Wi all picking up wins here. In the past 2 years it has had a more foreign feel with 17 year old Matteo Mannasero claiming the title here back in 2011 whilst Louis Oosthuizen came off the back of Masters disappointment to claim the 2012 trophy. We will be taking into account statistics from both the European Tour and the Asian Tour.
The tournament is played at the Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club and plays 7,000yards exactly. The short yardage gives every type of player the chance to perform well here, but with 4 reachable par 5’s if you can hit the ball long and grab a few eagles out there, you could go close here. Emphasis of course will be huge on GIR % and sinking those putts! Louis Oosthuizen won here last year with a score of -17 so there are plenty of birdies that need to be had out there this week. With the 2 favourites Luke Donald and Charl Schwartzel at the 5/1 mark in the betting, it makes them pretty much un-backable, but we have a few names that can walk away with the crown this week!
We will also warn you, rain and thunder is expected for all 4 days this week, so the leaderboard may not shape up the way you would think! Naturally if ‘Mr Rain’ Thomas Bjorn would have been there, he would be straight on our list, but sadly he will surely be on some Danish golf course this week, making the most of life in beautiful Scandinavia.
Gaganjeet Bhullar (50/1 Bet365)
We were sitting at home on Sunday night last week watching the final round of the Avantha Masters and could not help but be mesmerised by the golf this fellow was playing! His driving, iron play and putting was all working incredibly well, and he managed to climb the leaderboard on the final day to finish outright 2nd, 3 shots behind the impressive Thomas Aiken. His performances here have never been special, but never has he gone into the tournament off the back of playing so well! On the Asian Tour, Bhullar ranks 1st in GIR, 2nd in fairways hit, 7th in stroke average and is hitting the ball 298yards off the tee. Meanwhile on the European Tour, the Indian averages 304 yards off the tee, is 10th in stroke average, 12th putts per round and 71st GIR. All in all Gaganjeet is a mean prospect and as long as the rain does not affect him this week, he will go close.
Rafael Cabrera-Bello (28/1 StanJames)
The Spaniard has yet to get going this year but this course will suit him just fine and with 2 European Tour titles to his name already, he knows how to win. His form has been mixed of late, but his poor form has come in America and not on the European Tour. Before the WGC events, Bello in Europe finished T17, T22 and T23 in fields arguably a lot better than the one this week. And in those events he was shooting some low scores which bodes well. His course form is perhaps what will impress you the most though, in 2 appearances here he has finished 3rd and 4th, so he really enjoys this course. His statistics this year don’t fly off the page, 15th in GIR is the best to show from them. But interestingly he was 13th in GIR for the whole of 2012 on the European Tour, and as we mentioned earlier, you need to be finding those greens this week as it will be so competitive at the top. He has also averaged 290 yards off the tee the last 2 years which will give him chances to go for the 4 par 5’s out there in 2 shots. Of the lower odds there this week, Bello for us, will go the closest.
Wen-chong Liang (66/1 SkyBet)
Again this is another person who really, really impressed us at the Avantha. The muscular Chinese man was always towards the top end of the leaderboard and looked both long off the tee and very capable on the greens. He averages 316 yards off the tee on the Asian Tour and 301 in the European which will be invaluable on the par 5’s. He also finds himself 10th in putts per GIR and 3rd in putts per round, albeit playing fewer tournaments. In 2012 on the European Tour, he was 28th in GIR and 20th in stroke average, which is impressive for someone not known to many. In the Malaysian Open he has gone 65th and then 29th last year which shows improvement and his 3rd place at the Avantha will fill him with a lot of confidence. If you’re worried about his credentials, Liang has not finished outside the top 25 in 5 of his last 6 appearances on the European Tour, which includes a T24 at the WGC – HSBC Champions event. We really like him and would advise you to jump on him now.
Stephen Gallagher (45/1 Paddy Power)
We are pretty sure Gallagher will come into this tournament flying, knowing he has a European title under his belt already this year and the fact he finished 2nd here last year. He hasn’t appeared on the European Tour since his win, after two appearances at the WGC’s, so he will feel much more at ease in the less star studded field this week. His course form here before his 2nd last year goes 11th and 49th, so with that improvement it only means there is 1st place left for him to finish right? Statistically, Gallagher is solid in all areas neither excelling nor failing at any aspect of his game, whilst he is driving the ball 293 yards which is plenty long enough. Last year on the tour the Scot finished 10th in GIR. Gallagher seems to be one of those players who play well on certain courses, and this course ranks up there as one of his best, so look out for him this week.
Scott Hend (100/1 BetFred)
Hend is someone we so nearly backed last week for the Avantha Masters and he performed admirably with a T6 finish. The big hitting Aussie usually plies his trade on the Asian Tour, so he will be more than comfortable playing in Malaysia. The most impressive statistic about him is his driving, he hits it long off the tee, and then some. He currently averages 321 yards off the tee in Asia whilst he finds himself 1st in total birdies, 3rd in total eagles and 34th in stroke average all on the Asian Tour. Those figures will fit in perfect for this week. 2 of his last 3 appearances in Asia have brought about a T6 last week and then a T9 at the Open Championship Asia qualifying event. His performance here was T11 last year, so it will be very interesting to see how he goes this week with him being in very good touch.