Kuala Lumpur: Danny Chia got his campaign at the CIMB Classic off to a flying start, posting a flawless five-under 66 to lie three stroke off the leader Troy Matteson on Thursday.
The 40-year-old admitted to feeling nerves as he arrived at The MINES Resort & Golf Club in the morning but proved that he was up to the task as he nailed three birdies on the opening nine before draining a further two on the inward nine to come home strongly.
“I was pretty calm out there. I didn’t try to surprise myself or make myself excited. Holed a few good putts and was hitting the ball half decent today, so quite happy with my start,” said Danny, who was placed tied-seventh alongside top draw Tiger Woods and four others.
“Driving int0 the club this morning, I could feel that the pressure was building inside me. I was glad to tee off the first hole because it helped to calm my nerves,” he shared, adding that he was pleased with the set-up which offered a balance of tough pin positions as well as some giveaways.
Making his second consecutive appearance at the prestigious US$6.1 million event co-sanctioned by the PGA and Asian Tours, Danny explained that he managed to keep himself grounded throughout the opening 18 holes.
“My confidence level was balanced throughout [the round]. I didn’t try to pull off any silly shots and I just did what I set out to do. I’m happy with the way it turned out because I had some good drives and a few bad ones, I misread the greens on a few holes but also managed to hole some long ones, so it pretty much levelled itself out,” noted Chia.
He was not however, bout to let himself get carried away with the result, despite being halfway to the ten-under-par 274 total which earned him a tied-13th finish a year ago at the tournament.
“I’ve always struggled to put four good rounds together. I always just try to make my worst round not as bad and this week, that would be a one or two-under-par round. I’m trying to play one shot at time and put my full concentration in getting the best out of myself,” he added, noting that the CIMB Classic gave him a good opportunity to gauge his competitiveness against the PGA Tour players.
Malaysia’s other representative at the tournament, Shaaban Hussin struggled to an opening three-over 74 to lie tied 46th, one stroke better than Aussie Marc Leishman who is propping up the leaderboard.
“I was five-over after the cross over. I ran over to the physiotherapist so they could have a look at my shoulder. I felt much better after that. I made a good comeback and I’m proud with that. I’ll need to carry some of the momentum into the next three days,” said Shaaban.