Photo - Asian Tour
CHIA’S OPEN DREAM HANGS IN THE BALANCE
St Andrews: Danny Chia’s hopes of becoming the first Malaysian to play the weekend rounds at the British Open were hanging in the balance after a wild and wind-swept second round on Friday.
Chia, who opened his campaign with a tidy 69 at St Andrews, carded a five-over-par 77 in extreme conditions where gusts of winds blew in excess of 40mph in the year’s third Major.
His two-over-par 146 total was one shot outside the halfway cut mark at the Old Course after play was abandoned at 10pm local time following a one-hour suspension in the afternoon due to unplayable conditions.
The halfway cut will only be made on Saturday morning when the remaining 30 players complete their rounds. Chia will be keeping his fingers crossed for at least one player to fall out from the safe zone as exactly 70 players are presently above the cut mark on one-over. The top-70 players and ties after 36 holes will qualify for the final two rounds.
Such was the difficulty of the day that overnight leader Rory McIlroy slumped to an 80, 17 shots worse from his sparkling first round’s effort. Louis Oosthuizen of South African holds the clubhouse lead on 132.
Chia, who is making his third Open appearance, was satisfied with his campaign at the birthplace of golf.
“This is my most satisfying Open. I prepared myself well and throughout two days, I controlled my game and struck the ball solid. What was going on with the winds, I just couldn’t control it. It was out of our hands. It is disappointing but you can’t do much about these things,” said the Asian Tour stalwart.
Chia felt that officials should have stopped play earlier when high winds made play almost impossible. “It was really hard conditions. I didn’t really understand why they didn’t stop play. We had gone through 45 minutes of bad weather and if anything, I would put it (his score) to that. It wasn’t easy. My ball kept shaking on the green at the 11th hole and I asked the referee if we would stop playing. He told us to keep going as no decision was made at that time. Two holes later, we eventually stopped,” said Chia.
Dropped shots on the third, fourth and sixth started his spiral down the leaderboard before he made further bogeys on the 10th, 16th and 17th holes. Chia said he opted for the wrong shot at the infamous penultimate Road Hole which he eventually did well to secure a bogey.
After laying up to 30 yards with his second shot from thick rough, Chia chose to putt up the green but his ball ran beyond the flag and rolled down onto the cart path. He pulled off a superb recovery shot to salvage a five and then birdied the 18th hole from close range which may yet keep him in the Open.
“I didn’t hit the ball any different from yesterday. I hit a lot of good shots but didn’t get rewarded. I found it hard to putt as I was always worried my ball would move when I addressed it,” said Chia, who was the first Malaysian winner on the Asian Tour.