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Westwood & McInley commit to Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur, January 29: European Ryder Cup stars Lee Westwood and Paul McGinley are the latest big guns to take aim at the Carlsberg Malaysian Open at the Mines Resort & Golf Club from February 20-23.

Westwood, Europe's number one in 2000, is a terrific performer in Asia where he has won five times, including the 1997 Malaysian Open while McGinley was hailed a hero after holing the putt for Europe to regain the Ryder Cup at The Belfy last year.

Their confirmation strengthens an already impressive cast for the US$1.1 million event, which is jointly sanctioned by the Asian PGA and European Tours.

World number five Retief Goosen of South Africa, Ireland's Padraig Harrington, ranked eighth in the world, and defending champion Alastair Forsyth of Scotland are the other top names shooting for glory in next month's Carlsberg Malaysian Open.

"It is fantastic that Lee Westwood will be back to play in the Carlsberg Malaysian Open," said Dato' Jorgen Bornhoft, Executive Chairman, Carlsberg Brewery (M) Berhad. "He has won the Malaysian Open previously and with 14 European Tour titles and 10 other worldwide victories under his belt, he is indeed one of Europe’s leading players.

"Paul McGinley is a fine player and he will always be remembered as the man who sank the putt that helped Europe win the Ryder Cup in 2002. Paul has won three times on the European Tour already."

The 29-year-old Westwood is only one of few players to win on every continent. But after his career high in 2000, his form took a dip following a lengthy break at the start of 2001 to welcome the arrival of his first child, Samuel Bevan.

The Englishman equaled the European Tour's record of six victories en route to ending Colin Montgomerie's seven-year reign as the continent's number one in 2000. This year, he has hooked up with renowned swing guru David Leadbetter in a bid to revive his flagging career.

"I've not really done much for the last couple of years and felt like I needed a change," said Westwood, who was also runner-up in the 1998 Malaysian Open after losing in a play-off to compatriot Ed Fryatt.

"I've been to see David Leadbetter before at the beginning of 2000 and liked what he had to say. He knows his stuff obviously, coaches a lot of good players and I thought he was the best guy to go and see.

"My ambition is to get back to where I was. I can still remember the good years well and it would be nice to play like that again. I've always enjoyed playing in Asia and I've had some successes there," said Westwood, whose last appearance in Malaysia was in 1999.

Malaysian Golf Association president Thomas Lee was delighted with confirmation of Westwood's return. "He has a strong following in Malaysia. Although he's not played his best golf of late, Lee is indeed capable of pulling off a victory at the Carlsberg Malaysian Open. As Sam Torrance (Europe's Ryder Cup captain) said, form is temporary, class is forever. I believe Lee has class."

McGinley, 36, played his way into the Ryder Cup team after a superb year in 2001 where he won once and posted 11 top-10s. At The Belfy, he holed an eight-footer at the last hole that clinched the half point for Europe to win the Ryder Cup.

"Out of the shadows come heroes, and that is where Paul McGinley and Phillip Price came from," said Torrance, also refererring to Price's superb victory over Phil Mickelson in the singles that tipped the odds in Europe's favour.

McGinley will enjoy the advantage of having played the Robert Trent Jones Jr-designed Mines layout, which is hosting the Carlsberg Malaysian Open for the first time. He partnered Harrington to help Ireland finish third in the 1999 World Cup at the venue.

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