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Sharma set for Maybank Championship defence

India’s Shubhankar Sharma is ready to rekindle his love affair with the US$3 million Maybank Championship when the joint Asian Tour and European Tour event gets underway at Saujana Golf & Country Club next week.

Sharma’s two-shot victory last year was the springboard to further success as he would go on to clinch the prestigious Asian Tour Order of Merit title at the end of 2018. The 22-year-old is looking forward to returning to Saujana’s Palm Course, where he overturned a four-shot deficit with a magnificent closing 10-under-par 62 to win his second Asian Tour title last February.

“The most memorable moment for me in 2018 was winning the Maybank Championship. That started things off for me. The victory opened many doors for me,” said Sharma, who also went on to play in all four Majors and all the World Golf Championships tournaments in the year.

“2018 is the year that I’ll remember for the rest of my life and obviously that win in Malaysia played a huge role in those good memories too. I’m feeling ready to go and take off from where I left last year,” he added.

The Indian joins an illustrious list of Asian Tour Order of Merit champions that include Australia’s Scott Hend, Malaysia’s Gavin Green, Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee, compatriot Arjun Atwal and David Lipsky of the United States, who will all be returning to contend at the Malaysian showpiece from March 21-24.

Green, who became the first Malaysian to lift the Asian Tour Order of Merit title in 2017, will be banking on home ground advantage for a better showing after finishing T39 and T47 in the last two editions.

“I feel I’m mentally and physically prepared. Definitely there’s a chance (to win) but I need to stay patient and handle the pressure of playing in front of the home crowd,” said Green.

Other notable names in the strong 156-man field include Major champions Ernie Els and Padraig Harrington. Japanese star Ryo Ishikawa as well as Thailand’s Jazz Janewattananond and Poom Saksansin.

As part of Maybank’s commitment towards bolstering regional talent and provide a platform for players to take their games further, the ASEAN invite category will  feature Singapore’s Johnson Poh and Jesse Yap, Myanmar’s Ye Thet Aung, Indonesia’s Danny Masrin and Philippines’ Angelo Que, who are part of the five-player ASEAN line-up.

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