The Asian Tour’s 2015 season tees off this week with the Maybank Malaysian Open, launching what is poised to be a rewarding year ahead for the region’s top stars.
A record US$3 million prize pot on offer at Malaysia’s national championship, which dates back to 1962, will provide the perfect start for the Asian Tour as it will welcome three new tournaments over the next 11 months.
The Thailand Classic presented by Black Mountain, with a US$2 million prize purse, will make its debut in Hua Hin next week before the Tour heads to the US$1.5 million Hero Indian Open, which will be jointly sanctioned for the first time with the European Tour.
Other new tournaments slated to take a bow on the Asian Tour Schedule include the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open in May and the Vascory Classic in Malaysia in August. It was also announced last week that the Singapore Open will return in January, 2016 after a lapse of three years with a new title sponsor, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, on board.
A total of 10 tournaments will be featured in the first half of the Asian Tour Schedule before the region’s premier Tour picks up full steam with its traditional run of well-established tournaments in the second half of the year.
Asian Tour Chairman Kyi Hla Han is anticipating an exciting season ahead as Asia’s top talents begin their quest for more glory and riches, while keeping an eye on the Olympic Games qualification in Rio de Janeiro next year.
“We are really excited with the launch of our 2015 season in Kuala Lumpur this week as the Maybank Malaysian Open is one of our most prestigious and lucrative tournaments on our Schedule,” said Han.
“From here on, it is with great anticipation that we look forward to the next 11 months as we welcome new and exciting tournaments such as the Thailand Classic next week, AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open in May and the Vascory Classic in Malaysia in August.
“The inclusion of these new events reinforces the growth of the game in this region and underlines the support that we receive from Corporate Asia; and along with all the other established tournaments that make up our Schedule, our 2015 season is poised to be a memorable one for our talented players.”
Han expects the proven names of the game such as Thongchai Jaidee and Thaworn Wiratchant of Thailand, who hold a combined 31 titles and five Order of Merit crowns on the Asian Tour, to extend their winning habit. He believes the likes of new number one David Lipsky of the United States and Anirban Lahiri, voted as the Players’ Player of the Year last season, will also cement their stature as new stars in the game.
“Through the playing opportunities on the Asian Tour, many new stars such as David Lipsky, Anirban Lahiri, Prom Meesawat, Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Rashid Khan have proven themselves with great performances while our experienced players including Thongchai Jaidee, Thaworn Wiratchant, Scott Hend and Arjun Atwal continue to show their ability to keep winning at the highest level.
“We expect many more talents to stake their claim for success this season, which will make this season exciting for our sponsors, fans and television viewers,” said Han.
England’s Lee Westwood will defend his title at the Maybank Malaysian Open which starts on Thursday where other headliners include his Ryder Cup teammates Graeme McDowell and Victor Dubuisson and two-time Malaysian Open winner Thongchai and Atwal.
Maybank is celebrating its 10th year as title sponsor of the Malaysian Open, which was the first tournament in Asia to be jointly sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour in 1999.