Chinese sensation Li Haotong is full of confidence heading into this week’s Maybank Championship following his spectacular victory in Dubai.
The Chinese star held off the challenge of four-time Major Champion Rory McIlroy at Emirates Golf Club to land a second European Tour title at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.
His victory moves him alongside countryman Ashun Wu as China’s most prominent winners on the European Tour and catapults him from 84th to second place in the Race to Dubai Rankings presented by Rolex behind England’s Tommy Fleetwood.
And now the 22 year old, who also became the first Chinese player to break into the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking, is hoping he can maintain his fine form at Saujana Golf & Country Club, where he recorded a top-five finish 12 months ago.
Another player coming into the event in fine form is France’s Alex Levy, who finished fourth in Dubai having been seventh in Abu Dhabi a week earlier, and part of Europe’s victorious team in the EurAsia Cup presented by DRB-HICOM. The ever-consistent 27 year old has only missed two cuts in the last 12 months on the European Tour and hopes to keep his good run going.
He will be joined in the field by Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger, who finished third at the event in 2017, and World Number 12 Henrik Stenson.
Li Haotong: “It’s definitely such a big honour after last week. I gained a lot of confidence and experience, so quite happy I can be out there and in that position.
“It gave me a lot of confidence and I am feeling great, especially against Rory on Sunday. I think nothing to lose and staying patient was key.
“I think my game is pretty solid and I’m putting very well. This week I will just try to save some energy for the week and hopefully play well and enjoy the pressure.
“It’s been really good, especially this course, if you put the ball on the fairway all the time you are going to make a lot of birdies.
“Sometimes one week can change everything, I will try my best to play well this week and hopefully have a special week.”
Alex Levy: “I am a little bit tired so I will try to keep my energy and try to do my best. Five weeks far from home and it’s quite warm here, so I just do my best.
“I will try to do my best this week but you know with golf sometimes it is good and sometimes it is not. I need to stay focused and to try my best.
“I think they changed the order so it is a different stretch, so I would say the last six holes are the most important because you can make some birdies but get in trouble as well.”
Bernd Wiesberger: “It’s my second visit in a couple of weeks and we are just around the corner really, so some good memories over at Glen Marie to start the year and coming back to Saujana Golf Club, I had a good round last year, so it’s nice to be back.
“It was nice to get a good run going there on the Friday, they have changed the front nine a little bit, but other than that very good memories and hopefully they can fuel another week.
“I’m a bit tired, the jet lag wasn’t great, I’m not going to lie and an early wake up here for the pro-am on Tuesday, so trying to get a couple hours in over the next couple of days but nothing we won’t be able to handle.
“The desert was maybe not quite as good results as I hoped but I shot two tournaments of 12 under, which would normally be a decent score, but obviously the scoring is very low going into this year. So not quite there result wise but a lot of positives and some things to work on over the next couple of days to finalise a good week in Malaysia.”