Photo - Asian Tour
MALAYSIA’S CHIA MAKES BRITISH OPEN HISTORY
St Andrews: Danny Chia was over the moon after becoming the first Malaysian in British Open history to make the halfway cut on Saturday morning.
The 37-year-old Asian Tour regular endured a sleepless night after thinking he had missed the halfway cut by one stroke at St Andrews following a five-over-par 77 in high winds for a two-day total of two-over-par 146 on Friday.
But with 30 players returning to the Old Course early Saturday to complete the second round in testing conditions, the cut mark eventually settled at 146 which ensured Chia’s place in Open folklore and the weekend rounds.
“It is great to make history for Malaysian golf. It feels really good. I found it hard to sleep last night. I kept looking at the scores on the internet although play was already suspended. I just couldn’t help it and kept looking at the scores to see where I was,” said Chia.
“I woke up at six and checked on the scores again and noticed players were dropping shots. I think I have surpassed myself. As I said yesterday, it was the most satisfying Open campaign for me. I played really well for two days.
“You always dream about playing the weekend rounds in a Major, what more the British Open. It’s a dream come true for me,” added the Malaysian, who was making his third Open appearance.
Apart from being overjoyed, Chia was relieved he will see weekend action in the year’s third Major. When he finished his round yesterday, he was two over the cut line at the time.
“For the first time, I knew I didn’t blow it. I shot five over but I felt that I didn’t leave any shots out there yesterday. After signing my card, I felt I would miss the cut by one which would have been hard to take. I’m so relieved now,” he said.
He hopes his slice of Major history at the world’s oldest Major at the Home of Golf would inspire young Malaysians to emulate and better his feat. Chia added he would fight to move up the leaderboard for a high finish.
“I really hope this will inspire the younger kids. All these while, I’ve always tried so hard to prove myself as part of the reason is I want the younger generation to come out and be better than me. I want them to represent the country in a big event like this,” said Chia, the first Malaysian to win on the Asian Tour with victory in the 2002 Taiwan Open.
“Now, I’ll fight for a better position. The ultimate dream would be to make the top-15 so that I qualify for next year’s Open.”
Chia was happy to silence his critics after receiving text messages from back home with negative connotations. “Last night, I received a few messages saying that I screwed up again. But they are not here and they didn’t watch me play. They don’t know how tough it was yesterday,” said Chia, noting that only 26 players out of 156 broke par for the second round.
“A lot of times, I was in trouble but I hit a lot of great shots to salvage the hole. It doesn’t matter what they say as I feel really good and I know I did good. It was nice to prove them wrong.”
The Malaysian also credited his local caddie Simon Blackmore for providing the guiding hand. “He knows the course in and out and has been a help. I also learned a lot from 2005 when I played here for the first time. Royal Birkdale (in 2008) wasn’t anything like this. This is a true links course where you have to play low shots and run your shots up to the greens. I practiced those shots before coming over and I’m glad I’ve been able to play well.”
Round three will start at 10am local time, with Chia teeing off at 10.30am with Sweden’s Richard Johnson.