AT THE FORE FRONT
Maybank, Malaysia’s largest financial services group and the leading banking group in South-East Asia, has been at the forefront of golf development in the country for the past decade. Its Chairman, Tan Sri Megat Zaharuddin Megat Mohd Nor, explains how the inaugural Maybank Championship Malaysia, taking place at the Royal Selangor Golf Club from 18 to 21 February, is an extension of its endeavours to elevate golfing standards in Malaysia. What inspired Maybank to create its own prestigious, in-house golf tournament? We are already well-known as the title sponsor of a key European/ Asian tournament in this part of the world over the last 10 years. The Maybank Championship Malaysia (MCM) tournament is an innovative step up to that and further enhances our ASEAN focus. Moreover, golf will be featured in the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro this year and our support of some of the Professional Golf of Malaysia Tour (PGM) and the Professional Golfers Association of Malaysia (PGAM) tournaments, coupled with the MCM next month, should give our Malaysian professionals more chances to acquire the World Ranking Points essential for gaining qualifications into the Olympics. How different will it be from existing tournaments already on the calendar? If you look at what we have announced so far, we have introduced a number of differentiators in the MCM. The first is the venue – the Royal Selangor Golf Club (RSGC) – which is hosting an international tournament after a long time. It is of international class and has a setting that is truly different from other golfing grounds.
There’s also the innovation in player selection. We will have the top players from the European and Asian Tours, and from the PGM and PGAM. We’re giving an opportunity to five ASEAN professionals based on their Asian Tour Order of Merit, Asian Development Tour Order of Merit and National Professional Golfers Association of ASEAN Countries – something which no one else has done. Additionally, there will be one top player from the Middle-East North African Tour, two who are not members of European PGA and Asian Tours, as well as the highestranked Malaysian in the Amateur World Rankings and the Asia-Pacific Amateur Masters Champion.
We’ll also be having some exciting spectator activities that we’ll announce in due course. Our objective The revamped RSGC course will be a challenging venue for the players. For many of them, the championship offers them the chance to collect the much-desired World Ranking points to enable qualification to the Olympics. We are also working to make sure the venue will be accommodating and exciting to spectator needs, building on our past experiences and ideas on how to leverage the club and its location. For overseas visitors, there is the draw of Kuala Lumpur itself, a vibrant city with a picturesque skyline famed for its culture, food, shopping and entertainment. Maybank has long been a supporter of golf. What are your thoughts on its development over the past decade and future hopes? From the growing number of professional tournaments in Malaysia after we first got involved, way back in 2006, the calibre of Malaysian players, professional and amateur, has certainly been raised. But so have the non-Malaysian players! In Maybank, we have not yet realised our (Malaysia’s) hope for a local champion at our events over the last 10 years. But, having the right mix of exposure to international events, which requires mental focus, dedication and the desire to win, will provide further impetus to our Malaysian players. Of course, in the immediate term, I’m hoping to see a Malaysian qualify for golf in the Rio Olympics and do well there! How does golf tie in with Maybank’s corporate endeavours? Pursuit of leadership in the game of golf needs many of the values that Maybank believes in. Among
Tan Sri Megat Zaharuddin Megat Mohd Nor at the Royal Selangor Golf Club, which will host the inaugural
Maybank Championship Malaysia next