THE season opening 2024 Malaysian Open golf tournament, teeing-off this Thursday at the Mines Resort & Golf Club, has attracted eight of the top-nine 2023 Asian Tour final Order of Merit players.

The Asian Tour in a statement confirmed the participation of Miguel Tabuena of the Philippines, who finished second in the Asian Tour merit last year, Indian Gaganjeet Bhullar (third), New Zealander Ben Campbell (fourth), Australian Travis Smyth (fifth), Thais Phachara Khongwatmai (sixth), Poom Saksansin (seventh), Spaniard David Puig (eighth) and Hong Kong’s Taichi Kho (ninth).

With the Malaysian Open this year being afforded Open Qualifying Series Asia status by The R&A with the three leading finishers qualifying for the 152nd British Open (The Open) at the Royal Troon Golf Club in July, fans can expect a fiery battle in the field from Feb 15-18.

Among the favorites are Trevor Simsby of America, who was crowned champion when the tournament was last held in 2020 just before the COVID-19 pandemic halted the world sports, and Japan’s rising star Takumi Kanaya, a winner on last year’s International Series.

The 2017 Asian Tour Order of Merit winner Gavin Green is set to lead the host’s challenge, together with his younger brother, Galven, as well as the country’s brightest amateur talents.

“Rising Malaysian stars Shahriffuddin Ariffin and (Hanoi SEA Games champion) Ervin Chang will also be hoping to make an impression after strong 2023 seasons, as well as their experienced compatriot Ben Leong, who has been showing signs of returning to form in recent times,” Asian Tour said.

Another former champion, Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand will also be aiming to kick-start this year’s campaign on a high note, after having claimed the title in 2013 with a one-stroke victory against European Ryder Cup star Edoardo Molinari of Italy.–Bernama

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