Chia relishes Horizon Hills challenge

Danny Chia © Ravi Chitty/The ClubHouse

Johor Bahru: The local challenge at the fifth edition of the Iskandar Johor Open will once again be spearheaded by Malaysia’s number one Danny Chia.

The 39-year-old headlines a 12-strong local field this week at the US$2 million event at Horizon Hills Golf & Country Club,  alongside Ben Leong, Iain Steel and Shaaban Hussin, who all qualified through their Asian Tour rankings. Eight others – M. Sasidaran, R. Nachimuthu, Wilson Choo, S. Murthy, S. Sivachandhran, Nicholas Fung, Haziq Hamizan and Mohd Sukree Othman – qualified through the National Qualifier held earlier this month.

Chia, who shone with a strong display at the CIMB Asia Pacific Classic, Malaysia two weeks ago, is aiming for another good performance on home soil this week, on a golf course which he dubs as his type of golf course”.

“Horizon Hills is a good layout. I love the golf course and the key this week will be putting. Generally, I’m hitting ok but my putting will need to be better to score on this layout,” said Chia, who notched his best finish all year on the Asian Tour with a tied 13th finish at The Mines Resort & Golf Club.

Chia, who carded rounds of 73,70,73 and 68 for a 284 total and a share of 38th place in last year’s edition knows the competition will be tougher this week with many top players from both the European and Asian Tours in the field.

Ben Leong © Ravi Chitty/The ClubHouse

“It’s good that the championship is now joint sanctioned by the European and Asian Tours. The competition will be huge as usual but this is good for the local boys as we get to compete against some of the world’s best players,” Danny added.

Ben Leong, winner of the 2008 Selangor Masters, is considering changing to the belly putter in hopes of turning his fortunes around. “I’m testing out the belly putter. I’m just trying something different. I don’t know if I will put it in the bag this week. We’ll see how it goes by Thursday,” said Leong.

The top-60 players on the Order of Merit at the end of the season will keep their Asian Tour card for 2012 and Leong, currently in 82nd place, hopes to put in a good result and break into the safety zone.

“I’ve been hitting it good but wasn’t getting the result. Everything wasn’t combining together. I feel it is just a matter of time before the results come. I need to keep believing in myself,” said the 25-year-old.