The Malaysian Open returns this year's Race to Dubai back to Asia after last week's stint in Spain. Kuala Lumpur Country Club plays host to this season's tournament—the sixth time it has done so in eight years—providing a tough challenge after last week's Masters.
Day 4 Report
It didn’t take Lee Westwood long to surge ahead of the chasing pack on the fourth and final day of the Malaysian Open.
Andy Sullivan had come within a stroke of joining Westwood at the top of the leaderboard on Saturday but a terrible start to his round on Sunday saw Westwood restore his four-shot advantage by the conclusion of the third hole.
|Player||Day 4 Score (Par 72)||Total|
Regaining his composure, Sullivan hit birdies on the next three holes, to keep him hanging on Westwood’s coat tails. However, a dropped shot on the seventh curtailed his renewed optimism.
A third Englishman, Danny Willett, had studiously worked his way up the leaderboard, to join Sullivan on 12 under by the 12th hole.
Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts and France’s Julien Quesne were also putting in a shift, the latter with an exceptional 20-foot birdie at the eighth to bring him into contention.
As the players headed onto the back nine, the chasing pack was becoming quite congested but Westwood remained calm throughout, showing no sign of nerves as he edged towards the title.
A birdie at the 10th to take him to 16 under was a clear sign of a player in no mood to let his grip on proceedings slip once again.
However, his march to glory was stopped in its tracks as the threat of lightning forced a four-hour abandonment of play with the leading group on the 12th hole.
As play resumed at 5 p.m. local time, both Willett and Sullivan were their own worst enemies again.
For the second time in the round, Sullivan found water again, this time at the 12th and once Willett had bogeyed the 13th, Westwood made no mistake with a birdie chance to take him six clear of the field with just five holes remaining.
The 40-year-old looked relaxed in the closing stages, even if his second shot to the 17th tee missed the green completely. With five shots still in hand, Westwood could afford a mistake or too and still comfortably win a tournament he had dominated from the opening day.
In the event, a decent four on the hole took him to the 18th tee still six clear of the pack.
Willett’s play at the final hole wasn’t in keeping with much of the rest of his round and a double-bogey to finish was hardly the way for him to end the tournament, dropping from second place to fifth.
As Westwood made his way to the final green, the massed ranks acclaimed their champion. A confident chip gave him the chance to birdie the final hole for a final total of 18 under, a shot duly taken.
It was the biggest winning margin of all of his 23 European Tour titles, per EuropeanTour.com.
Sullivan couldn't get off of the course quick enough after three-putting the final hole to leave him on seven under for the tournament.
In truth, this was Westwood's tournament to lose from Day 1. A worthy winner.
Day 3 Report
Andy Sullivan cut Lee Westwood's four-shout over night lead down to just one stroke on the penultimate day of play at the Malaysian Open.
The 27-year-old from Nuneaton shot up the leaderboard after a stunning six-under-par round of 66 to move within touching distance of his compatriot. Westwood, who is chasing his 41st professional win, could only card a one-under-par 71 on day three, after two excellent rounds on days one and two.
|Player||Day 3 Score (Par 72)||Total|
|Eduardo De La Riva||71||-8|
Here's how the top ten is shaking up with just one day of play left:
Westwood and Sullivan will go out in the final group on Sunday after a dramatic day three in Kuala Lumpur. The leader looked in imperious form over the course of the first two days play as continued to build on a solid seventh place finish at last week's Masters.
Rounds of 65 and 66 seemed to have put Westwood firmly in control, but on day three he was unable to replicate the stroke-play that had seen him develop a healthy lead over the course of the first couple of days.
Sullivan looked to capitalise, rocketing up the standings from sixth place into second. Seeking his first ever European title, the Nuneaton-born man hit 33 on both the front and back nine; his game looks to be in excellent order ahead of tomorrow's showdown.
After his penultimate round, Westwood suggested the sweltering conditions may have been a factor in his performance dip per EuropeanTour.com:
It was tricky out there. I didn’t play as well as I did the first two days, but there were some difficult flags and it was really hot.
That’s as hot as I’ve been on a golf course for quite some time. It was a real grind, but I’m leading going into the last round so I’m quite happy with that.
The man in hot pursuit of the leader was delighted with the consistency in his round, but he too admitted he felt a little weary as the round went on per EuropeanTour.com:
I played well again and tried to limit my mistakes.
I only made one mistake but I got it back straight away. I’m delighted with the way I finished.
I felt myself getting a bit tired coming up 15 and 16. I made a couple of sloppy swings but I didn’t drop any shots. I holed a good putt on 16 to keep the momentum going.
Pablo Larrazabal, the man who was stung 20 times by a swarm of hornets on Friday, could only put together a round of 70:
Strange But True: Golfer Pablo Larrazabal forced to jump into water hazard to escape hornets at Malaysian Open. pic.twitter.com/q1596Swuct— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) April 18, 2014
Further down the leaderboard, Julien Quesne continued his incredibly consistent week with a three-under-par 69, putting him four back from Westwood. Nicolas Colsaerts is in fourth position after he shot an even-par round of 72 and he's five back from the leader.
With Westwood and Sullivan four and three shots clear of the rest of the field respectively, the winner of the tournament is set to come from one of the two Englishmen. Westwood has the experience in these tight, tense situations and he'll be the overwhelming favourite to emerge as the victor.
But if Sullivan can play with the same swagger and authority that saw him steam up the leaderboard on day three, then we could be in for a thrilling finale on the final day in Kuala Lumpur.
Day 2 Report
Lee Westwood picked up from where he left off on Day 1 during Friday’s play at the Malaysian Open, with another stunning round in Kuala Lumpur.
The Englishman carded a six-under-par 66 to add to yesterday’s 65 to move him four shots clear on 13 under, as the European Tour reported:
After a top-10 finish at the Masters, Westwood has taken his form to the Malaysian capital, where he’s just two rounds away from his 41st professional win.
Here’s the remainder of the top 10 of the leaderboard after a thrilling day’s play:
|Player||Day 2 Score (Par 72)||Total|
|Eduardo De La Riva||68||-7|
Westwood went out in 31 blows with five birdies on his front nine, and bar a double-bogey blemish on the par-three 11th, it was a strong round for the 40-year-old.
Westwood’s ability tee to green has never been questioned; it’s his work with the flat stick that has kept him from further career success, particularly in major tournaments.
However, everything dropped for the Nottingham-born star on Friday, taking just 26 putts according to the European Tour’s official website.
The Englishman now sits four clear of Antonio Lascuna of the Philippines and his former Ryder Cup teammate Nicolas Colsaerts at the top of the leaderboard, with the former enjoying the low round of the day.
Lascuna picked up eight birdies on the way to a seven-under 65 to put him in contention for his first-ever professional win, while Colsaerts added a 69 to go with Thurday’s 66 to put him on nine under.
However, the great golf on show was overshadowed by a truly bizarre incident on the fifth hole, as Spain’s Pablo Larrazabal was forced to dive into a lake to avoid a hornet attack.
Having dried off and completed his round of 68, the 30-year-old described the remarkable incident, as European Tour reported:
I hit my tee shot just right of the bunker and chipped it out quite well. So I'm walking along and suddenly I felt something on my nose. I swatted it away and suddenly...they were not bees, they were three times the size of bees. They were huge and like 30 or 40 of them started to attack me big time. I didn't know what to do. My caddie told me to run, so I start running like a crazy guy, but the hornets were still there, so the other players told me to jump in the lake.
Despite being stung several times, Larrazabal ended the day on a total of four under in 25th place and will be looking forward to the buzz of playing the weekend.
With the cut at one over par, the standard has been incredibly high in Malaysia, and that’s set to continue as the weekend comes around.
Westwood is a strong front runner, and if his putter stays hot then he’ll likely continue to dominate the field and romp to his 13th title in Asia. However, with the chasing pack showing equal brilliance to the Englishman on Day 2, nothing can be taken for granted.
Day 1 Report
Lee Westwood propelled himself to a one-shot clubhouse lead during a storm-ridden first day at the Kuala Lumpur Country Club. The experienced Englishman overcame a slow start to finish with a seven-under 65, moving ahead of nearest competitor Nicolas Colsaerts by the smallest of margins.
As noted by the European Tour's official Twitter account, play was temporarily suspended due to an incoming tropical storm before the day's action was eventually abandoned until Friday:
No! A storm has rolled in and play is suspended. #MMO2014— The European Tour (@European_Tour) April 17, 2014
That's it for the day as darkness descends in KL. Round 1 to be completed at 7.40 on Friday. Round 2 tee times remain unchanged. #MMO2014— The European Tour (@European_Tour) April 17, 2014
Here's the current leaderboard.
|Name||Country||Holes Completed||To Par||Today||Total Shots|
|Michael Hoey||Northern Ireland||18||-5||-5||67|
|Jbe Kruger||South Africa||18||-4||-4||68|
Be sure to check the European Tour website for the full rankings.
Westwood managed to quickly overcome a bogey on his first hole to take a small advantage.
Starting on the 10th, Westwood birdied three of his first nine to develop a decent groove. He carried this form over to the second half of the course, finishing strongly to cap a smart day's work.
Will Lee Westwood win the 2014 Malaysian Open?
"I didn't make the best of starts bogeying ... the first hole, but fortunately that didn't set the tone," Westwood told the Associated Press (h/t USA Today).
"I hit it really well and hit it close a lot. I had to be patient because I was hitting good putts and they weren't going in (until) I holed one from about eight feet on my 16th."
Colsaerts worked his way back from a neck injury to card a decent 66, following Westwood closely in second. The powerful Belgian birdied five of the back nine holes, including four of his last five, but stuttered with bogeys on the 11th and 17th holes.
Colsaerts has been searching for consistency in recent times. According to Lim Teik Huat of The Star Online, he noted patience is the key after managing to complete his round amid ominous weather conditions:
A bit of patience. It’s funny ... I waited for a round like this since Jan. 1. I just kept my momentum going and made a few bounce-backs. I parred the two par-fives on the front which is a bit disappointing but I kept very patient and that, in the end, was what made a difference.
Northern Ireland's Michael Hoey and Portugal's Ricardo Santos both shot five-under 67s to maintain pace at the top. Hoey posted a single bogey on the 12th, but couldn't break par for much of the day, with Santos suffering the same mishap on the 17th.
Jbe' Kruger of South Africa and France's Julien Quesne hit rounds of 68 to close on four under. The latter overcame a double bogey on the second hole to move ahead of Masahiro Kawamura and Scott Jamieson, who reside on the same score with one and two holes to complete, respectively.
Although it was a challenging first day on the Malaysian course, Westwood and Colsaerts are showing the kind of confidence that can easily led to dominance across three days.
Sky Sports' Dave Tindall indicates that Westwood has captured 12 of his 40 professional titles in Asia, ensuring he has the pedigree to hold his nerve.
The opening round's slow completion is surely an advantage for those who have finished at the top, giving those who wait behind plenty of time to contemplate their progress, and indeed, shortcomings.
Both Westwood and Colsaerts will be looking over their shoulders as 45 of the 156-man lineup finish their first round on Friday. With dominance established, the top two will be looking to put themselves out of reach before the chasing pack have time to contemplate their chances.