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St Andrews: Malaysia’s Danny Chia has an old score to settle as he attempts to make it third time lucky at the British Open which starts on Thursday.
The 37-year-old Asian Tour regular made a bittersweet debut in the world’s oldest Major at St Andrews in 2005, missing the weekend cut by two shots and subsequently enduring another disappointing campaign at Royal Birkdale two years ago.
Those experiences have fired him up for this week’s challenge as he shoots to become the first Malaysian to play in all four rounds at the year’s third Major.
“I’m happy to be here although there is a bit of pressure. I feel uptight for this one. It’s my third time here and in the last two, I didn’t fare too well. I’m desperate to play well and prove I can compete in a Major,” said Chia, who earned his place through the International Final Qualifying – Asia in March.
Memories of his first visit to the Old Course are vivid following commendable rounds of 74 and 73. He remembers the goosebumps after his name was called on the first tee before the start of the first round which he closed out with a stunning eagle at the par four 18th hole.
Chia, Malaysia’s first winner on the Asian Tour, reckons he is better prepared to tackle the vagaries of links golf although ultimately, the plan is to simply avoid the notorious pot bunkers, in particular the one which guards the par four 17th “Road Hole” which dashed his hopes five years ago.
“First day, first hole … that was my most memorable moment. It was the most spectators I’ve seen in my life. When the starter called my name and country, it gave me a special feeling,” said Chia, who played a practice round with 2003 Open champion Ben Curtis today.
“I was shaky the last time out. But this time, I think I will enjoy it more. Hopefully, I will get to produce shots like the eagle on the last hole (in 2005). I remember driving it to four feet of the flag for eagle. You don’t forget those sort of shots.
“On both days, I had a chance to play well. But looking back, the 17th hole caught me badly. I took a double bogey and bogey after finding the front bunker in two rounds and it cost me a place in the weekend.
“With the tees brought further back, the 17th is by far the toughest hole I’ve ever played. It’s a scary hole as there is little room for error. It got me the last time but hopefully I can shoot four pars there this week. It’ll take some doing.”
Unlike his first visit to the Home of Golf when he flew into Scotland 10 days before the start of the Open, Chia arrived only two days ago and hopes the change in preparation will make a difference.
“I think I was mentally drained by the time I teed up the last time I was here. I have prepared myself better, like how I would do for any Asian Tour event. I think my preparation has been good. I know the shots I need to hit and I’ve been striking it a lot better this year, so I’m feeling pretty good.
“Hopefully, I will be third time lucky. I don’t want this week to be just for a walk on the course. I want to make sure I give myself all the possibilities of playing well,” said Chia.

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