malaysian open
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February 4-7 , 1999

Defending Champion:
Ed Fryatt
UKP 468,000
Host course:
Saujana Golf and Country Club
Kuala Lumpar, Malaysia


Humidity a worry says Westwood

Westwood and Clarke start 1999 campaigns

Top picks for the Malaysian Open

Howells sticking to the fairways

Westwood aiming to topple Tiger Woods

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - Britain's Lee Westwood, voted Europe's golfer of the year in 1998 after his seven victories worldwide, is aiming to knock Tiger Woods off the top of the rankings.

Speaking ahead of the Malaysian Open starting on Thursday, the ambitious 25-year-old, who won this event in 1997 and lost a playoff for last year's title, set out his store for the year.

He told reporters: "Top three on the world rankings is very realistic but my goal is to reach number one.

"There are 24 world ranking points on offer this week for a win and that could take me up to number five. Then if I win in Dubai I could make top three really quickly."

The Englishman is unfazed by the burden of expectation on his shoulders.

"I don't bother with the expectation," maintained Westwood. "I don't listen to people or take what they write very seriously.

"I have my own goals and expectations and if I reach them I'm happy and if I don't then I'm disappointed."

Westwood will this week be matched against the player who pipped him for European runner-up spot, Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke.

The pair, friends and management stablemates, bounced off each other all last year to run six-time European number one Colin Montgomerie close, and fully expect to do so this year.

"I seemed to be chasing Lee most of the year and trying to get past him," said Volvo Masters winner Clarke. "If it can happen again we should both have great seasons again.

"To knock Monty (Colin Montgomerie) off the top of the order of merit would be a great reward."

Neither gets the chance to have a crack at the reigning European top man until next week in the big-field Desert Classic in Dubai.

This week their biggest threat could come from stablemate and fellow Briton Andrew Coltart, winner of the 1998 Qatar Masters, and defending champion Ed Fryatt, an Englishman but a regular winner in Asia.

Monsoon rain and lightning interfered with practice on Wednesday.