Maybin looking to leap forward
Gareth Maybin has the perfect opportunity to emulate countryman Rory McIlroy and take another major leap up the world rankings at the Maybank Malaysian Open this week.
The Ulsterman, who came close to winning his first European Tour title in just his third start in South Africa in December when he lost a play-off, is currently ranked just inside the top 100 at 93.
Maybin finished a disappointing 60th in Dubai, closing with rounds of 77 and 75 after promising two under rounds of 70.
After the high-profile Desert swing – capped by McIlroy’s win in Dubai – it’s a much more low-key field in Kuala Lumpur this week.
Even so, neither Michael Hoey nor Jonny Caldwell could make it into the field. Hoey moved up to fourth reserve after Darren Clarke’s withdrawal earlier in the week but since then the field has remained intact.
The promise of extra riches on the European Tour because of the new Race to Dubai prompted the inclusion this week of rising American star Anthony Kim.
After a disappointing start to his European Tour career in Shanghai, Kim will be looking for better fortune this week.
He became a fully paid-up Tour member late last year but has yet to get off the mark after being disqualified from the season-opening HSBC Champions tournament in November for playing with an altered driver, after accidentally tapping it on a sprinkler head.
As the highest ranked player at the Malaysian Open, Kim, the world number 11, is expected to improve his position in the Race to Dubai this week although he refuses to see himself as the favourite at the Saujana Golf & Country Club.
"I don't know if I am the man to beat," said the 23-year-old.
"I just heard that Thongchai Jaidee (of Thailand) has won this event a few times and there are definitely a lot of guys on the European Tour who have a lot of game and I have to set my game up to play at the that level and hopefully I can bring my game too.
"To be honest, I have played two events here in Asia and they have been top notch. It is just a matter of time before your (Asian) players start moving over to the US and start playing some great golf.”