x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Hot and humid Malaysia poses a different challenge

Ernie Els heads a strong field of major winners in Singapore despite Tiger Woods playing in Australia for the first time in 16 years.

SINGAPORE // The leading challengers at this week's CIMB Classic fear Malaysia's baking heat will present a formidable test, with one top contender saying the humidity "takes the cake".

The co-sanctioned US$6.1 million (Dh22.4m) PGA Tour and Asian Tour event begins tomorrow in the capital, Kuala Lumpur, where temperatures are touching highs of 32°C and humidity is hovering above 90 per cent.

Brandt Snedeker, the in-form American, a two-time winner on the PGA Tour and one of the favourites, said: "I got in Monday night and kind of walked around and got acclimatised to it."

Describing it as "really hot", he said: "We try to compare the weather here to Memphis because we play Memphis in June. Memphis in June is hot, but I think this takes the cake.

"This is mild today, they said. It's all overcast, but I walked outside and I was sweating at 9am."

A heavy downpour lashed The Mines Resort & Golf Club yesterday afternoon, and more showers are forecast throughout the week, threatening to disrupt play and adding a new dimension to the tournament.

Fredrik Jacobson, who was a promising ice hockey player as a child, said he was slowly getting used to it.

"I always had a tough time playing in Malaysia and in Thailand because coming from Sweden, and living there, those were the first tournaments of the year for us in the 1990s," he said.

"I was coming straight out of the wintry climate in Sweden and coming into the hot, humid weather was always difficult. Now coming from Florida, the weather feels more like what I am used to in Florida."

Jonathan Byrd, a five-time winner on the PGA Tour, said he had never known heat like it.

"I grew up in South Carolina and that's hot. But it's very different here, I sweated a lot today," the American said.

Elsewhere, Ernie Els, the former world No 1, will be joined by a host of other major winners in next month's Singapore Open, which has secured a strong field despite clashing with an Australian event headlined by Tiger Woods.

The Asian Tour yesterday announced the South African duo of Els and Retief Goosen and the Americans Jim Furyk and Webb Simpson would participate in the US$6m event in Singapore, also sanctioned by the European Tour.

"With such an elite line-up of players confirmed and with other marquee names still to be announced it is clear that the Barclays Singapore Open will boast one of its strongest ever international line up of competitors," an official representing the title sponsors was quoted as saying in a statement.

Major winners Phil Mickelson, Graeme McDowell, Padraig Harrington and YE Yang will also tee off in the November 10-13 tournament at the Sentosa Golf Club.

Meanwhile in Sydney, Woods will be joined by home favourites Adam Scott, Geoff Ogilvy, Jason Day and Greg Norman at the Lakes Golf Club in a quality line-up for the Australian Open, a PGA Tour of Australia event, ahead of the Presidents Cup.