Patient Chia celebrates return of form in style

JOB WELL DONE: Danny Chia clenches his fist after parring the 18th hole © Khalid Redza / Asian Tour

Kuala Lumpur: It wasn’t the prize money of  US$85,000 or the knowledge that he had managed to out-duel some of the top players in the world that left Danny Chia beaming from ear-to-ear.

It was the simple fact that no matter how he played, the Malaysian number one just wanted to give himself a chance to play well. And he did just that as he closed his campaign at the CIMB Asia Pacific Classic, Malaysia with a final round of one-under-par 70. The 39-year-old took totalled 12-under 272 as he took great pride in sharing 13th place alongside five other PGA Tour stars.

Chia had no expectations going into the US$6.1 million event, sanctioned by the Asian and PGA Tours, but enjoyed a memorable week where he raised local cheers after charging into contention in the third round.

While he failed to challenge the leaders in the final day, the Malaysian took consolation that his performance earned him a career recordt pay day, and also an audience with HRH Yang Di-Pertuan Agong, Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin after his round.

“Yesterday, I told myself that it won’t be easy. I was going to accept bad shots but recovered well. I did that today which I was happy about,” said Chia, who mixed three birdies and two bogeys.

“The way I was hitting today, it was difficult to score. I did’t get lucky on the greens but all in all, I accepted it and played well,” he added on a day where he had to salvage par on more than one occasion.

Buoyed by vocal local gallery, Chia expressed his gratitude to the hundreds that soldiered through the sun and rain at The Mines Resort & Golf Club. “I felt the whole country was behind me. It’s not easy to perform out there today. I guess in a way I didn’t let them down,” he shared.

Chia, who finished 11 strokes behind winner Bo Van Pelt of the United States, believes the experience this week will fuel his goal of returning to the winners’ circle on the Asian Tour.

It’s been fantastic, playing with the PGA Tour players. It’s been one of my dreams to play with them. But I’m most pleased with myself, my game, how I played this week and how patient I was. It was simply unbelievable,” said Chia whose lone Asian Tour victory was in 2002.

After doing some soul searching, Chia will now hold on to a new mantra of staying patient. “I learned so much about myself, how to play this game. I’ve been very patient this week. Now I’ve started to play with a lot of strategy. Previously I used to be very aggressive and go for a long drive and  try to get into the green with a wedge. Now, I don’t mind if I have a six-iron approach, it doesn’t matter as long as I can have a look at birdie,” said the 38-year-old.

Shaaban Hussin, the second Malaysian in the 48-man field, finished in tied 45th place with two-time Major champion Angel Cabrera of Argentina. Despite improving on his performance last year where he finished last, the 31-year-old was disappointed not to achieve his goal of finishing in the top-20.

“I’m disappointed but it is okay because I’m still learning. I still got a long way to go in my career,” said Shaaban, who shot a 72 to earn US$42,500.