Walk in the park for Chia

Danny Chia ©Murali Nair|The ClubHouse
Danny Chia ©Murali Nair|The ClubHouse

Rawang [SELANGOR]: Danny Chia secured a winning start to 2015 after coasting to a comprehensive eight-shot victory at the Professional Golf of Malaysia (PGM) Panasonic Open Malaysia – Tournament of Champions on Saturday.

Having won the opening event on the flourishing domestic circuit’s twice previously, the 41-year-old completed an emphatic display from tee-to-green at Templer Park Country Club with a closing two-under 71 for a 16-under 272 winning overall.

Chia left four-time Asian Tour winner Mardan Mamat (71) in his wake as the veteran Singaporean settled for sole second in the RM250,000 winners-only event.

Young professional Kenneth De Silva recorded a three-under 69 to leap into a share of third on 282 alongside the nation’s top amateur Gavin Kyle Green (72), who failed in his bid to win a second successive professional title at the challenging tract.

Thailand’s Kwanchai Tannin carded a 71 to finish a further stroke adrift in fifth with titleholder Kemarol Baharin (72) taking sixth place on 284.

With a seven-shot cushion in hand, Chia was relatively untroubled in the final round, carding four birdies to go ten strokes clear through 11 holes before conceding two late bogeys on the closing stretch.

The national number one was pleased to continue his run of good form from late last year, which guaranteed his playing rights on the Asian Tour this season.

“I don’t think I can ask for anything more given that I’ve never had a seven-shot lead going into the final round of a tournament before. My ball-striking was perfect all week, and although, I was a little spaced out today,  I am satisfied with my overall performance,” said the now six-time PGM Tour winner.

“My expectations were low coming into this tournament. I was just returning from a two-week break after my final event in Dubai last year and I had not touched my clubs until the pro-am tournament on Tuesday. I was a little rusty on the edges but mid-way through the second round, I was striking the ball with confidence again and started to drain a couple of birdies and the feel came back,” added Chia.

Having reclaimed his position as the top Malaysian on the Official World Golf Rankings (OWGR), Chia is quietly confident of his own game as he plots the next chapter on a successful comeback trail from a career-threatening injury.

“I would just let my golf do the talking. 2014 was one of the more memorable years in my career because I loved the way I fought back when the chips were down. I trained hard to get back to my fighting best and I managed to lift myself when I needed it and gain those important results. Personally, it felt great and I told myself that this is the beginning of a new me,” shared the seasoned professional.

Leading final round scores >
272 – Danny Chia 71-64-67-70
280 – Mardan Mamat (SIN) 69-68-72-71
282 – Kenneth De Silva 72-69-72-69, Gavin Kyle Green (Am) 71-70-69-72
283 – Kwanchai Tannin (THA) 70-69-73-71
284 – Kemarol Baharin 69-70-73-72
286 – Shaaban Hussin 71-73-72-70, Wisut Artjanawat (THA) 71-73-72-70
287 – Ben Leong 74-68-75-70
288 – Jhonnel Ababa (PHI) 72-72-70-74