By Olle Nordberg, Former Asian Tour and European Tour professional
The Bandar Malaysia Open is making a return to the Asian Tour schedule after a four-year absence and is held in partnership with the Japan Golf Tour Organisation (JGTO). A prize purse of US$1 million will be on offer with the winner taking home US$180,000.
The event was last held in 2015 where Indian star Anirban Lahiri beat Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger by one shot to secure his sixth title on the Asian Tour.
Kota Permai Golf and Country Club last hosted an Asian Tour event in 2012 with Thai legend Thaworn Wiratchant emerging victorious, and the course has also hosted Bandar Malaysia Opens in the past.
The last time the event was held at this course was in 2008 when Arjun Atwal of India won the title for the second time.
One of the premier courses in Malaysia, it will play as a par-72 at 7,016 yards from the championship tees this week.
Players to Watch
Joohyung Kim (KOR)
One of the most promising young players anywhere in the world, the 17-year-old Kim seems to be near the top of the leaderboard every time he plays.
Apart from three Asian Development Tour (ADT) wins and one Asian Tour title in 2019, he also won The Country Club Invitational on the Philippine Golf Tour to bring his total wins for the year to five.
His career record in OWGR counting events (which exclude two of his wins last year) has been impressive as he currently holds a 10.34% win percentage, 44.83% top-five percentage and a 51.72% top-10 percentage in 29 events played. For reference, Tiger Woods is currently at a 57.66% top-10 percentage.
A fourth-place finish in Singapore in January qualified Kim for The Open at Royal St. George’s this July, his first Major, and last week he led the New Zealand Open through the first three rounds and eventually finished in solo-fourth place.
While he had been hoping for a different outcome on Sunday afternoon, Kim picked up 4.5 important OWGR points and is now up to number 123, a career high and the second highest in the field this week.
Pavit Tangkamolprasert (THA)
The two-time Asian Tour winner started his season with a win at the Boonchu Ruangkit Championship on the ADT in late January, and his good form goes all the way back to the middle of last year.
Pavit won his second Asian Tour title at the Sabah Masters in November, two weeks after narrowly missing out on winning his National Open in a playoff.
After getting off to a disastrous start by being five-over-par in his first five holes last week in New Zealand, Pavit proved why he’s such a dangerous player by making 17 birdies and no bogeys in his next 40 holes.
While he was featuring near the top of the leaderboard most of Saturday, he would eventually finish the tournament in a creditable 11th place, which is his best outing in three straight attempts at the New Zealand Open
Wade Ormsby (AUS)
The Asian Tour Order of Merit leader after winning the season-opening Hong Kong Open where he claimed the title by four shots over The Open champion Shane Lowry.
It was the second time Ormsby had gotten his name engraved on the prestigious trophy, having also won the event in 2017.
Ormsby, however, endured three straight missed cuts on the European Tour after his win in Hong Kong, but would regain his form in New Zealand last week. Ormsby finished tied-seventh and extended his lead on the Asian Tour Order of Merit with over US$209,000 in earnings.
Rashid Khan (IND)
With top-10s in his last two events, a sixth-place finish at the Hong Kong Open and a tied-eight in Singapore, Khan is obviously in good form.
He also won the 2019 Professional Golf Tour of India Order of Merit in 2019, posting two victories and eight other top-10s on his local Tour.
He is the highest ranked Indian on the OWGR at 186th and is also inside the cut-off mark for the Olympics at number 53 on the Olympic Golf Rankings. The top-60 on the list as of June 22nd will qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, which should be a huge incentive for Khan to keep up the good play for the next few months.
Gunn Charoenkul (THA)
Having already made US$77,150 on the Asian Tour in the first two events of the 2020 season, the Hong Kong Open where he finished third and the SMBC Singapore Open where he tied for 11th, Gunn has been in great form for more than a year.
He played most of his golf last year on the Japan Golf Tour, where he posted 10 top-10s and finished 21st in the Money Rankings, but came back to the Asian Tour in December and finished the year with a solo-second at the BNI Indonesian Masters and a fifth-place finish at the season ending Thailand Masters.
Although he made almost US$130,000 in the three Asian Tour events that he played last year, easily enough to keep his card, he did not play enough events to count on the Order of Merit.
Currently ranked number 136 on the OWGR, he is also one of the Tokyo Olympics hopefuls and is currently at number 46 inside the qualifying cutoff of top-60 on the Olympic Ranking list.
Ben Leong (MAS)
The highest-ranking Malaysian in the field this week at number 532 on the OWGR, Leong is a one-time winner on the Asian Tour as well as a two-time winner on the ADT.
Leong’s best result on the Asian Tour last year was a tied-sixth at the Thailand Open and he finished in 48th place on the Order of Merit. He also had second-place finish on the ADT, as well as two other top-10s.
Rikuya Hoshino (JPN)
The highest ranked player on the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) in the field this week at number 117, the Japanese had a solid week at the SBMC Singapore Open where he finished tied-11th.
Hoshino also finished 11th on the Japan Golf Tour Money Rankings in 2019, posting a win at the Dunlop SRIXON Fukushima Open and had seven other top-10s.
He also won a tournament on home soil in 2018, the Fujisankei Classic, which helped him to a career high rank of seventh in the Money Ranking that season.