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Lahiri ready to home in on title at Maybank Championship

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Indian star Anirban Lahiri hopes the ‘feel-good’ factor will propel him to victory at the US$3 million Maybank Championship which starts on Thursday.

The 2015 Asian Tour Order of Merit winner is amongst the stars gathered at the renowned Saujana Golf and Country Club for the US$3 million showpiece sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour.

The 29-year-old Lahiri won a Maybank-title sponsored tournament in Malaysia two years ago en route to becoming the region’s number one. He also holds four other top-10s in other Asian Tour tournaments in the country.

However, his path to an eighth Asian Tour victory could be blocked by reigning Masters Tournament winner Danny Willett, who is the highest ranked player in this week’s elite field at 15th in the world, and another Major winner, Charl Schwartzel.

Like Lahiri, Willet, a five-time European Tour winner, also has a knack of producing some his best golf in Malaysia, with three top-10s here. As he is also the touring professional for Saujana, whose Palm course is nicknamed the ‘Cobra’, the Englishman will be eager to deliver a “home” victory at the Maybank Championship.

Following two wins last year, world number 26 Schwartzel, who won the Masters Tournament in 2011, will start as one of the contenders as he makes his first appearance at the Maybank Championship, which will also be his first tournament of the year.

Local hopes will be carried by Nicholas Fung, who emerged as the leading Malaysian on the final Asian Tour Order of Merit ranking last season when he finished an impressive 12th, thanks to four top-10s including a runner-up finish in Manila. With his straight-shooting game, Fung is keen to conclude the on-going Chinese New Year celebration with a maiden Asian Tour victory at the Maybank Championship this weekend.