Henrik Stenson returns to Malaysia hoping to add the finishing touch to some good early-season form when he tees it up at the Maybank Championship.
The Swede last played a stroke play event at Saujana Golf and Country Club in 2005 when he finished third at the Malaysian Open but returned to win two points as part of Europe’s victorious team in the EurAsia Cup presented by DRB-HICOM just three weeks ago.
The World Number 12 has since achieved top tens at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA and the Omega Dubai Desert Classic and, while he does not feel he is firing on all cylinders, he has been pleased with his start to 2018.
Meanwhile Fabrizio Zanotti is looking froward to defending the title he won in stunning fashion less than 12 months ago. The Paraguayan made one of the biggest comebacks of the year at the 2017 Maybank Championship, overhauling a six-stroke deficit to pip American David Lipsky with an eagle on the 72nd hole to win his second European Tour title by one stroke.
The 34 year old has made a strong start in the 2018 Race to Dubai, finishing tied ninth at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA in his first start of the year and is hoping to become the second player this season to successfully defend a European Tour title following Tommy Fleetwood’s victory in Abu Dhabi.
Henrik Stenson: “I haven’t been playing much in Malaysia for the past ten years and now I’ve been here two times in a month so I’m back to being a local resident, I guess.
“It’s a nice place, obviously a little bit on the hot side for us northern Europeans but we’ll get by that and hopefully have another good week here in the early part of the year.
“I still feel like it’s been a bit of a struggle, though, long game has not been where I want it to be but putting has been pretty solid. I kept it together nicely, not making many mistakes despite that and I’m happy with that.
“Two top tens in the first two events and managed to get the win down here a few weeks ago so, all-in-all, a pleasing start but still got some things to work on.
“It’s continued to be pretty wet, it was wet when we were here three weeks ago and played the EurAsia Cup. The greens are very slow. I’m pretty pleased we’re not playing Augusta next week because that would have been a big change. It’s going to take a little bit of an effort to get the putts there but that’s going to be the same for everyone.”
Fabrizio Zanotti: “I am looking forward to it a lot but I am not thinking about it too much. I am just trying to enjoy the week, it’s not often you defend a title so I am just trying to enjoy the week.
“You need to be very patient here, all the guys are going to make a lot of birdies, so you are going to have plenty of opportunities and you won’t make all of the birdies so to stay patient is very important for this week.
“I’m feeling good. I played really good in Abu Dhabi, I worked hard in Paraguay for the beginning of the year and I am happy with my game, so hopefully this week I can play well again. The game is feeling good, I just think I need to do my thing and stay patient, play my own game.
“Today when I played the 18th I saw the place where I holed the putt and it was just a really good day, a really good round and I won’t forget those memories.