Danny is Matchplay king

Danny Chia ©Arep Kulal|PGM
Danny Chia ©Arep Kulal|PGM

KAJANG [Selangor]: Danny Chia added another first to his repertoire after clinching the inaugural Professional Golf of Malaysia (PGM) Matchplay Championship in clinical fashion on Sunday.

The 42-year-old ninth-seed came through five days of intense match play golf to prevail at Impian Golf & Country Club with a 5&3 defeat of seasoned campaigner R. Nachimuthu in the championship decider.

Mixing accurate ball-striking and brilliant match-play strategy, Danny was in irrepressible form as he build on the momentum of his handsome wins over Farid Rashid (8&6) and Sukree Othman (5&4) in the quarter-finals and semi-finals respectively.

“I was a but worried about my ball-striking coming into the tournament but it just got better match-by-match. I’m very pleased with the result today and to win an inaugural event is always something special,” said Danny, who was also the flourishing domestic circuit’s maiden winner in 2010.

After a cagey start which saw the finalists trade birdies to remain all-square, Danny birdied the seventh to move one clear before a 15-foot par putt on the next saw him take a 2-UP lead over Nachimuthu.

A dropped hole on the ninth was followed by three consecutive gains after the turn as Danny took advantage of Nachimuthu’s mis-firing putter with a par-birdie-birdie run through 12th to go 4-UP.

He brought the contest to an end in style by setting up a three-foot birdie putt on the 15th with his rival conceding the match after failing to connect with his own 25-feet effort.

“It was pretty tight at the start but I guess the turning point was when Nachi[muthu] double-bogeyed the tenth and I managed to go 2-UP again. I birdied the 11th and then almost holed out on 12th. I was fortunate that I was able to pick up the holes at the crucial moments and just kept the momentum going with some solid drives and good iron play,” he added.

Danny noted that his opening round of 64 match with Khairul Nizam Rasip proved to be a real wake-up call after the qualifier took the match to 17 holes.

“My first match-up was a bit of wake-up call – I’ve never played with before and I did not know what to expect. Many predicted that it would be a walk in the park for me but it was quite unnerving as it took me 17 holes to take him down.

“From there on, I got the hang of the format. I was able to put into use some of the mental game techniques that I picked up recently at the PGM-UMW Road to Olympics workshops and it proved really beneficial to me in this head-to-head contest,” added the runaway Order of Merit leader, whose winner’s share of RM30,600 takes him past the RM200,000-mark on the money list.

Despite coming up just short, Nachimuthu said he was happy with how he played overall and in reference to Chia’s display today, added: “He just made too many birdies – I played okay overall but didn’t putt very well today when it mattered.”

In the play-off for third place, Sukree Othman took the honours after Kemarol Baharin withdrew through injury at the 10th hole with the former 1-UP at the time.