Saturday 19 August 2017

Clarke backing Irish trio to stay cool in hunt for Malaysian prize

Darren Clarke on of Ireland's only three competitors will be banking on staying cool in this week's Maybank Malaysian Open title Photo: Getty Images
Darren Clarke on of Ireland's only three competitors will be banking on staying cool in this week's Maybank Malaysian Open title Photo: Getty Images

Bernie McGuire

Ireland's only three competitors will be banking on staying cool when they tee up in this week's Maybank Malaysian Open title in steamy Kuala Lumpur.

Darren Clarke, Peter Lawrie and Gary Murphy have made their way to the Malaysian capital for the $2m co-sanctioned event, played for a second time on the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club course.

Organisers have drawn Clarke to contest the opening two rounds in the company of Thailand's talented Thaworn Wiratchant and unknown Indian C Muniyappa.

American-based Korean Charlie Wi won on the course in 2006 but only after poor weather forced officials into reducing the event to 54-holes and with play finishing near lunch on Sunday.

That allowed many of the Europeans in the field to head down to Kuala Lumpur's famed Chinese Markets for some last-minute shopping.

However, it is the €260,000 first-prize cheque that will top the shopping list of the Irish trio.

Oppressive

But rather than the course, it once again will be Malaysia's oppressive heat and humidity that will be the biggest test for golfers. Players will consume close to 10 litres of water from the time they step on to the practice range up until they hand in their scorecards

Clarke has contested just three Malaysian Open titles with a best of 10th in 2008, so he really is no stranger to the conditions.

"I don't think we find it any easier but we know how to deal with the conditions a lot better than we used to," Clarke said.

Murphy, who has competed in six Malaysian Opens including the last five, added: "It's tough competing out there as the heat and humid just sap all your energy.

"You just have to keep your fluids up and drink plenty of water.

"I've played out here before so I know what to expect. But even though it's going to be really hot and humid I've been pleased with my preparations."

Crestfallen Michael Campbell is the only Major champion in the field. The New Zealander has missed the halfway cut in all three of his events this year while the former US Open champion heads to the Augusta National next month for the last year of a five-year exemption for winning a Major.

But Campbell is unlikely to be too hopeful of a return visit with a dreadful US Masters record of never having made a halfway cut in nine appearances.

Malaysian Open

Live, Sky Sports 2, 7.0am

Irish Independent

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