Former World No. 1 and 2010 US PGA Championship winner Martin Kaymer of Germany and the exciting Spaniard Alvaro Quiros will be among the gallery favourites, especially Quiros who is making his debut in the tournament. One of the longest hitters in the world, the 29-year-old missed the halfway cut at Augusta National and will be hoping for a strong showing at KLGCC to make amends.
Among the other European Tour players to watch are Brendan Grace, who claimed back-to-back victories in his native South Africa earlier in the year, Spaniard Rafael Cabrera-Bello who was fourth last year, six-time European Tour winner Simon Dyson of England, in-form Dane Soren Kjeldsen, 2011 Iskandar Johor Open champion Joost Luiten of The Netherlands and exciting young Englishman Tom Lewis who won the 2011 Portugal Masters in only his third professional start.
But let’s not forget the Asian Tour players who have in fact won the tournament nine times since it became a co-sanctioned event in 1999. Headlining the Asian charge will be Thai icon Thongchai Jaidee, India’s Jeev Milkha Singh and China’s Liang Wen-chong – all former Asian Tour number ones.
Three-time Asian Tour No. 1 Thongchai, who won consecutive Malaysian Open titles in 2004 and 2005, has always played well here and will be gunning to add to his record haul of 13 Asian Tour titles. Singh, who topped the Order of Merit in 2006 and 2008, has won six Asian Tour titles and has also claimed victories in Europe and Japan.
The other Asian Tour players to watch include current Order of Merit leader Jbe Kruger of South Africa, Siddikur of Bangladesh, Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Prayad Marksaeng of Thailand, Tetsuji Hiratsuka of Japan, Mardan Mamat of Singapore and Lu Wei-chih of Chinese Taipei. This season’s winners, David Lipsky of the United States, Indian duo Anirban Lahiri and Digvijay Singh and Australia’s Kieran Pratt are also in the field and will be fired up to do well.
Certainly, whoever hoists the Seagram Trophy come Sunday and pockets the US$416,660 winner’s cheque will have earned the spoils of war.