Malaysian Open lacks excitement and crowd, but could Malaysia finally see a local winner?

The Malaysian Open golf tournament has returned after a four-year hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but the first two days lacked excitement.

The crowd turnout was poor, there was a lack of signs, and more depressing, was the sight of the unfinished marquee tents.

One could be forgiven for thinking it was a local club competition until you look at the start list, which has eight of the top nine 2023 Asian Tour final Order of Merit in the field.

“There were some teething issues, but we are happy to see the tournament back after four years,” said a Malaysian Golf Association (MGA) official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

“We will issue a statement addressing several allegations, including that involving the sponsor, later, as we do not want to disrupt the competition.”

The Malaysian Open is one of the oldest National Opens in Asia, but its stock has plummeted since the mid-2000s, and it failed to attract sponsors between 2016 and 2019.

Its fortunes could be on the rise, now that this year’s event offers three leading finishers at The Mines Resort & Golf Club, who are not already exempted before the closing date for entries of The Open. They have the chance to qualify for this year’s Open Championship at Royal Troon Golf Club in Scotland, from July 14-21.

It is the first time the Malaysian Open will be one of the qualifying events for the world’s oldest golf Major.

There is more good cheer for the hosts, as V. Khavish is the joint halfway leader with Australia’s Kevin Yuan on 13-under 129, and another Malaysian, Ervin Chang, is joint seventh on 10-under 132.

Khavish speaking to members of the media yesterday.

MGA would need the boost of a Malaysian challenging for the title to entice locals to the venue.

In the 54 previous editions, the closest a local came to winning the Seagram Trophy was P. Gunasagaran in 1994, while the last time a Malaysian had the share of the halfway lead was in 2009, with Danny Chia.

Khavish, unfazed by his lofty position going into the weekend, said: “Whenever I tee off for a tournament, my mindset is always ‘Play to win’.”

“I love the pressure of being in the lead. I am glad to be in contention and have the chance to play in the Open.”

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