Thongchai, who holds an unprecedented three Asian Tour Order of Merit titles, is currently ranked 59th on the Official World Golf Rankings and he needs to break inside the top-50 in the world by early April to qualify for the year's first Major tournament.
The 13-time Asian Tour winner is looking forward to areturn to Malaysia, which is a happy hunting ground for the Thai who won back-to-back Malaysian Open titles in 2004 and 2005. He was also runner-up in 2006 when the event was staged at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club, which is this week's venue.
"It is a very important week. I need to win the tournament to give myself a chance at qualifying for The Masters. It will be very important for me to play well," said Thongchai, ahead of the US$2.75 million event sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour.
"I like going to Malaysia. I know the course quite well. The temperature is like Thailand but the humidity in Malaysia is a bit hotter than Thailand."
Thongchai, who won his first title on European soil in Wales last year, is confident of translating his early season solid performances into a 14th Asian Tour victory. He carded three top-10 results in the Middle East earlier this year and has yet to miss the halfway cut.
"My game is a little better but putting is very important. I hit the ball everywhere last week (at the Avantha Masters) because I put too much pressure on myself. I need to work a little bit on my swing and I think I'll be okay," said the former paratrooper, who finished tied 43rd in India on Sunday.
He uncharacteristically missed the halfway cut at the Maybank Malaysian Open last season but is determined to not repeat the same mistake at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club.
"I know what I did wrongly. I'll plan better this year. You tend to lose your rhythm in Malaysia because of the rain suspensions so I want to handle myself better. I know the weather in Malaysia is very unpredictable but I'll try my best to win anyway," he said.
He will lead a strongAsian charge this week with countryman and reigning Asian Tour number one Thaworn Wiratchant, Liang Wen-chong of China, who finished third at the Avantha Masters last week and an in-form Gaganjeet Bhullar of India, who finished second on Sunday and now leads the Asian Tour's Order of Merit.
Korea's Kim Kyung-tae, China's Wu Ashun, Thailand's Arnond Vongvanij, Korea's Baek Seuk-hyun, Filipino Juvic Pagunsan and India's Anirban Lahiri are also expected to contend in the Maybank Malaysian Open.
Former world number one Luke Donald of England, Thomas Aiken of South Africa, winner of the Avantha Masters on Sunday and Major winners Padraig Harrington of Ireland and Charl Schwartzel of South Africa will headline the Maybank Malaysian Open.