Photo - Asian Tour
ASIAN TOUR STARS LAUD CHIA’S MAJOR PERFORMANCE
Kuala Lumpur: Asian Tour stars lauded the historic performance of Danny Chia after he emerged as the first Malaysian to play in all four rounds at the British Open which concluded on Sunday.
Chia battled through unforgiving weather before narrowly making the halfway cut at St Andrews, the home of golf. His compatriots and fellow Asian Tour members believe his achievement will spur the growth of the game in Malaysia and Asia.
Chia signed off in tied 55th place with a four-day total of two-over-par 290 to earn US$19,046.
“It is a good result for Danny and his feat will certainly help with the growth of golf in the country. He didn’t get much television time but the Malaysian print media has been doing a good job in giving him the coverage he deserves,” said Iain Steel, who holds the distinction of being the first Malaysian to qualify for the British Open in 1996.
Airil Rizman, a winner on the Asian Tour, echoed Steel’s sentiments.
“It is something big for Danny to make the cut especially in this type of weather. This is a good achievement for Malaysia and Asia as we come from countries that don’t experience such weather,” he said.
S. Sivachandran, winner of the Negeri Sembilan Masters Invitational on the Asian Development Tour, believed that Chia has been in immaculate form and was not surprised he made the cut.
“I played with Danny on a couple of occasions and his iron shots are so good. All his approach shots look like they are going in! Seeing Danny make the cut at the British Open is good for Malaysian golf. He has set a new target for all Malaysian golfers,” said Sivachandran.
Chia’s regular practice partners, Lam Chih Bing of Singapore and Australian Unho Park, were delighted that he sparkled among the world’s best golfers.
“He owes Unho (Park) and I a big dinner! The day before the British Open IFQ Asia qualifying, Danny asked us to help him out with his swing and we suggested he shortened his back swing. It has been working wonders for him since then,” said Lam who is the first Singaporean to play in all four rounds of the British Open in 2008.
“This is definitely going to help with Danny’s confidence. When I made all four rounds at the British Open, I went on to do very well in the second half of the Asian Tour,” added Lam, winner of the 2008 Volvo Masters of Asia in Thailand.
Park, who is one of the most consistent golfers on the Asian Tour, believes Chia’s achievement will inspire the younger generation.
“I’m very happy for Danny. This is his third time playing at the British Open and it has paid off for him. He has been playing well lately, so it isn’t a surprise he made the cut.
“This will help a great deal with the growth of golf in Malaysia. There are a lot of young kids out there who look up to him and it will definitely inspire them to take the game seriously,” said Park.
Chia, 37, endured an anxious wait after thinking he had missed the cut following a second round 77 in high wind conditions. It didn’t help his confidence when he received negative text messages.
Steel and Airil were critical in the lack of support for Chia.
“It was silly. If they knew anything about the British Open or golf, they would know that the weather was not in his favour. If the weather was in good condition, Danny might have maintained his first round of 69,” said Steel, who partnered Chia in the World Cup Qualifying on four occasions.
Airil added: “Danny has dedicated his life to playing well in professional golf tournaments especially in a Major and it is disappointing when there is no support for the local professionals. He deserved to be playing in the weekend rounds and that isn’t easy to achieve.”