Battling Chia seals CIMB Classic start

CIMB Group's Effendy Shahul Hamid presenting the trophy to Danny Chia

KUALA LUMPUR: Veteran Danny Chia secured his sixth appearance at the prestigious CIMB Classic after defeating rising star Gavin Kyle Green with a birdie on the second hole of a sudden-death play-off at the CIMB National Championship on Friday.

Overnight leader Chia battled to a final round of three-under-par 69 at TPC Kuala Lumpur after overcoming an early triple bogey with eight birdies for a tournament aggregate of eight-under-par 280.

Trailing by three at the start of the day, Green forced extra time with a glorious 66 – highlighted by seven birdies.

After both players shot pars in the first extra hole at the par five 18th hole, Chia then claimed his third success at the qualifying tournament for the CIMB Classic with a birdie from six feet.

“Today was by far the hardest event that I had to fight back. Getting into the CIMB Classic again is great, and winning this event, beating Gavin in a play-off is very satisfying. I made it very hard for myself,” said the 45-year-old.

“Straight off the second hole, I made a triple bogey there and for some reason it always happens to me. It’s happened so many times that it wasn’t hard for me to come back from it.

“After the triple, I told myself ‘let’s play like it’s match play’ and let’s try to beat Ben (Leong) and Amir (Nazrin) on every hole and see what happens. It worked out well for me and I’m really pleased with that,” said Chia, whose best finish at the Classic came in 2011 when he finished tied-13th.

With the CIMB National Championship offering a coveted spot in October’s US$7 million CIMB Classic only to the winner – the 23-year-old Green will take heart that he will likely earn a spot in the PGA Tour tournament through the Asian Tour’s Order of Merit.

Currently fourth on the money rankings, Green needs to remain in the top-10 as of October 9 to qualify for the CIMB Classic for the second successive year.

The highest ranked Malaysian on the Official World Golf Ranking as of October 2 will also earn a spot in the CIMB Classic.

“I’ve missed so many putts this whole week which was annoying as I was hitting it good. It was a close fight to get into a play-off, third time in a row – last year in the Asian Development Tour, last year here with Ben and now today.

“I should also get into the CIMB Classic through the Asian Tour Order of Merit, which is also good as the money earned at the event will count towards the Order of Merit unlike qualifying from this tournament.

Rookie professional Amir Nazrin Jailani finished a creditable third after signing off with a 69, which included a missed birdie attempt at the 18th hole which would have put him into the play-off.

“I’m happy. I just enjoyed myself. Told myself in the morning that I had nothing to lose and to just go for it. I missed my shot on 14, it was still on the green on the right but it was a tough putt from there. My long putts were not good and I left the first putt short and missed the par attempt.

“On the last hole, I knew I had to birdie it to get into the play-off. It was a right to left putt but I hit it too firm and the ball went through the break. I wasn’t too disappointed really. This week, I learned a lot by playing with our top players. You just see that they stay patient and never give up,” added the former national.