Making his long-awaited 2006 debut is Ireland's Padraig Harrington, who has not teed it up in an official event since the HSBC Champions Tournament early last November.
The holder of nine European Tour titles, Harrington missed the cut in all three majors he played in 2005 and had to pull out of the Open Championship due to the tragic death of his father to cancer prior to the event.
He did, however, finally break through on the PGA Tour by winning not one, but two tournaments on the year with both victories coming in dramatic fashion. First, he outlasted Vijay Singh in a playoff at the Nissan Open and then holed 80-foot eagle on the last hole of the Barclays Classic to beat Jim Furyk.
Despite the lengthy break from action, Harrington can find comfort coming into his first tournament of the season by his past results in this event. He has twice finished runner-up and has added several other top 10s in seven starts, including a tie for eighth last year.
Harrington will have his hands full however as he will have to try and find a way to stop Thailand's Thongchi Jaidee who will be gunning for a hat trick on his return to Malaysia. Jaidee took the title in 2004 with a two-stroke victory and in the process became the first player from Thailand to win on the European Tour. He followed it up with a second straight win by cruising to a three shot win last year.
If Jaidee is able to visit the winner's circle yet again, he will join Ernie Els, Nick Faldo, Colin Montgomerie, Tiger Woods and Ian Woosnam as the only players to have won the same title three years in a row on the European Tour.
The Maybank Malaysian Open is co-sanctioned by the European Tour and Asian PGA Tour. This is the fifth time in the tournaments eight year history that the event will be played at the Saujana Golf Club in Kuala Lumpur .
The purse is $1,250,000 with a first-place check of $210,000.
The Golf Channel will broadcast all four rounds beginning Thursday at 8 a.m. (ET).