KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian veteran Danny Chia hopes to regain his drive to make up for lost time at the US$8 million ISPS HANDA World Cup of Golf when the prestigious team competition starts on Thursday.
Chia will partner Nicholas Fung in the 28-nation team event at Kingston Heath Golf Club, making his third appearance in the World Cup following a lapse of 15 years when Malaysia last qualified in 2001.
“I didn’t really expect to play in the World Cup of Golf again after being out of it for so long,” said Chia today.
“At one stage this year, I was trying really hard to catch Vijay Singh (of Fiji) in the world rankings as I knew I was close to him and he was the last guy in. But I just missed out at the time of the qualifying cut off and just didn’t think about after that. So it was just good news when Vijay decided to pull out later and I got the call to play.”
As the last team in the competition, World Cup debutant Fung is certainly excited at the prospect of partnering his mentor and close friend at Kingston Heath. They combined brilliantly at the EurAsia Cup in January, earning two halve points for Team Asia.
“It’s good being here for my first World Cup. It’s been 15 years since Malaysia last played and teaming up with Danny is great. It’s a good opportunity for us. We know each other’s game well as we play practice rounds regularly on the Asian Tour,” said Fung.
As we have spend so much time together, it’s easy to get along well with Danny. We also combined really well in the EurAsia Cup, so I guess that’s why he picked me. Danny is a good putter, so whenever I can, I’ll make sure I put him in a good position on the greens.”
Chia was in awe of Kingston Heath, saying that the famous sandbelt course in Melbourne will test every club in the bag. That unfortunately is bad news as the 43-year-old, who is a two-time Asian Tour winner, has struggled with his driving.
“It’s a great golf course. You pretty much need every shot in the bag. There are some short and tight holes, there are some good par threes and some long par fours. There’s a bit of everything here,” said Chia.
“However, my game hasn’t been great. I’ve had problems with my driving the past few months. It’s something I need to overcome this week. I’ll probably sacrifice distance on most holes and go with the hybrid club to make it easy for Nicholas in the foursomes (alternate shot). I’ll still try to work out the driver which I’ve just lost some confidence with it.”
In Fung though, Chia has a partner who is on good form. The younger Malaysian was unlucky to lose in a play-off at the Resorts World Manila Masters two weeks ago – a result which pushed him up to 14th place on the current Asian Tour Order of Merit.
“Nicholas has been playing well. I’m always impressed with the way he plays. I feel like he is someone I can rely on in a team format and I feel comfortable with him,” said Chia. “He’s very consistent. He’s probably the straightest driver I’ve seen on Tour. It will help me a lot with my current problem.”
Fung is ready to chip in for the team. Playing for the nation this week is something proud for the 26-year-old who is ready to put in every effort to ensure a good week at the World Cup of Golf.
“We’ve got the Malaysian flag on our driver covers this week,” said Fung.
“But I’m not going to put expectations on ourselves. It’s my first time here. We want to go out there, do our best and aim to have some fun on the golf course.” — ASIAN TOUR