This week on the European Tour we are in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for the Maybank Malaysian Open. The event has been sanctioned by the European Tour since 1999 and has previously been known as Benson & Hedges Malaysian Open, and the Carlsberg Malaysian Open before adopting it’s current name due to a new sponsorship deal in 2006. There have been two multiple winners since 1999, Thongchai Jaidee won this event back to back in 2004-2005 and Arjun Atwal won it first in 2003 and then for 2nd time in 2008. However neither of these players won the event at the current course Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club. Jaidee has finished 2nd at this course way back in 2006, and since then has played here twice, coming 17th in 2011 and missing the cut in 2012 so his form at this course does vary. He is generally at the 40/1 mark to win this week, probably about right taking current and past course form into account. He is currently 59th in the World Golf Rankings, and a win here could see him get an invite to Augusta in three weeks time so he has plenty to play for.
Last week in terms of my tips for the Avantha Masters was very disappointing, as 110/1 shot Julien Quesne finished just shy of a place in a tie for 9th. This week we will look to rectify that in an event that is very top heavy in betting terms with two clear favourites, Luke Donald and Charl Schwartzel coming in at top prices of 11/2 and 6/1 respectively. With these two players in the field many players prices have been inflated and that is great news for punters looking for some value. Apart from the two favourites 2011 champion Matteo Manaserro come in at 16/1 and Rafael Cabrera-Bello who has come T3 and T4 in the past two years is at a top price of 28/1. All of these odds given are the best and general price that each player is readily available at and in my opinion fairly reflect each players chances.
In recent history at the Malaysian Open there has been some world class players headlining the tournament with Charl Schwartzel and Martin Kaymer both playing at this event over the past two years and Rory Mcilroy making an appearance finishing 3rd here in 2011 when Manassero won. When these players mentioned have played they have finished in and around the top 5 and that is exactly where Schwartzel and Donald will expect to be come Sunday afternoon. I’m not here to tell you to back Donald and Schwartzel, much like Tiger in Bay Hill they have an obvious chance but offer very little value. With this in mind SkyBet have offered a “without Donald & Schwartzel” market and there is some excellent value to be had there, so make sure to check that out.
The Course: Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club was home to this event in both 2011 & 2012 and it also hosted it back in 2006. The course plays at 7,000 yards to the number and is a par 72, which leads to some impressive scoring. The last three winning scores at this event have been: -17, -16 and -14, so shooting around that mark will definitely see you make the top 5 come Sunday. The weather is often hot and humid at this event and threat of thunderstorms has also been known as a problem here in Kuala Lumpur. There is a huge contrast in the length of some of the holes, with the official length of the par 3 4th measuring at just 140 yards, which is dwarfed by the par 5 18 which is a massive 634 yards. That is not the complete tale however as there is also a 503 yard par 5 which is the third hole and offers players a great chance of scoring.
Current Champion: As you may know I normally call title this section “Defending Champion” however last years winner Louis Oosthuzien will not be returning this year in a hope to retain his Malaysian Open title. Oosthuizen shot an opening round of 66 bettered only by Charl Schwartel (64) and Jeev Milkha Singh (65) on his way to four sub-70 rounds beating his nearest challenger Stephen Gallacher by three strokes. Oosthuizen had to shoot -4 on the last day to beat Gallacher who shot -2 on the last day himself in order to gain sole 2nd place. With Louis out of contention this week Gallacher will be looking to go one better on his performance here last year, and with a T11 place also under his belt in 2011 he may well have every chance to do just that. Gallacher won his first event since 2003 in February of this year, winning the Dubai Desert Classic, and has since played in his first WGC event at the Match Play, so no doubt he will come into this week with even more confidence in his own game.
Taking all of this into account I will aim to help you find the best value on players who can both compete for the title and may also be overpriced bearing in mind the each way market. Manassero (17) and Seung-yul Noh (18) were both young when they won here in 2011 and 2010 respectively and that proves that a winner can come as a surprise. As mentioned earlier I will not be tipping Donald or Schwartzel, this however does not mean I don’t think they will win, of course they both have a fantastic chance but you can decide for yourselves whether you are happy to back them at such a short price.
Stephen Gallacher 45/1 (StanJames) 1pt e/w: As previosuly stated Gallacher came 2nd here last year in Malaysia after coming in a tie for 11th in 2011, not bad for his last two visits. A winner already this year at the Dubai Desert Classic, mix that together with his past form and you have in my opinion fantastic value at 45/1. He obviously likes this course and has already proved that he can shoot low, when he shot -22 to win in February. Gallacher’s expectations of himself this year would of risen dramatically after his first win in nine years, and will hope he can continue his fine record here at Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club. Apart from his win his form could be better so far in 2013 and he will be keen to find that here at a course he enjoys this week.
Romian Wattel: 60/1 (StanJames) 1pt e/w: Wattel came in a tie for 7th here last year with Martin Kaymer and Mateo Manassero, as well as Hennie Otto and he will have every chance of going even better here in 2013. He has played in five events so far this season and has missed the cut just once at the Africa Open. He bounced straight back when finished T10 at the Tshwane Open the following week and he will look to build on that result here in Malaysia. He didn’t play last week so should be fresh and ready to go looking for his second tour win, his one and only one coming in 2010. He is often popping up in and around the lead and he just needs to stay there in order to get his season going and what better place for him to do that, than a place where he knows he has scored well before? At 60/1 he looks an interesting prospect and is certainly worth keeping in mind.
Tommy Fleetwood 66/1 (General) 1pt e/w: Fleetwood has made an impressive start to this season, posting two top 10s and a T14 in 7 starts. These finishes could all be even better if he could put in a good performance in round 4. His final round has been his worst in all but one of his tournaments this year, most notably shooting a 78 in the final round at the Africa Open. This problem cannot be ignored and he definitely needs to improve on it. However with all this being highlighted he did shoot four rounds in the 60s at the Joburg Open and three at last weeks Avantha Masters with 71 in round 4 being his highest score of the week. The stage is set for him to pick up a win this season, his first on tour and what better to prove yourself than in the company of World No.3 Luke Donald and major winner Charl Schwartzel.
Soren Kjeldsen 125/1 (PaddyPower) 1pt e/w: Kjeldsen has two decent results at this course in the last two years, coming T16 last year, just two shots off of Wattel in 7th place, and T13 the year before that. He has not been at his best in recent months but his last two events show some positive signs in his game. Coming T21 at the Tshwane Open, before coming T34 last week at the Avantha Masters. He has started slowly in both events shooting just -2 on the first day of the Tshwane Open, and level par in his first round at the Avantha Masters, if he can get off to a quick start this week like he did here last year, shooting an opening round of 68, he may just be in with a better shout by the end of the weekend.
European Tour points staked this week: 8
Total points staked this week (inc PGA tips): 18
Profit/Loss for 2013: 0
That wraps up my tips this week, be sure to check out my tips for the Arnold Palmer Invitational if you haven’t already and good luck to you all with your bets this week. Any feedback or questions you may have please get in touch on Twitter @TomJacobs8