Chia in Charge in Selangor

Wed 05 Aug 2009

Chia in Charge in Selangor

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Petaling Jaya, Malaysia, August 5: Malaysia's Danny Chia lived up to the adage 'beware the sick golfer' when he seized the first round lead at the weather-interrupted Worldwide Holdings Selangor Masters on Wednesday.



The 37-year-old carried the local challenge with a superb seven-under-par 64 to take a one-stroke lead over Asian Tour rookie Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand at Seri Selangor Golf Club in the RM1 million (US$300,000) event.


 


Chia's compatriot Iain Steel ensured a strong Malaysian presence on the leaderboard, shooting a bogey-free 66 for joint third place with South Africa's James Kamte and last week's Brunei Open champion, Darren Beck of Australia.



A further stroke behind in tied fifth is another local stalwart Shaaban Hussin, South Africa's Jbe Kruger, India's Anirban Lahiri and Korea's Noh Seung-yul, all on 67s.



Despite being ill with the flu this week, Chia rose from his sick bed to charge into the lead, thanks to an eagle and six birdies against a lone bogey. He eagled the par five 13th hole after his five-iron landed 15 feet of the pin.



"I was feeling unwell the whole day, so maybe that made it easier for me to concentrate. I took some medicine and it made me drowsy and tired. Over the last few holes, I couldn't even hold my grip properly. I will be happy if I can make it to the tee box tomorrow," said Chia, Malaysia's first winner on the Asian Tour following his win at the 2002 Taiwan Open.



"I hit the ball quite well at the start of the round and holed some putts. I birdied the par fives on the front nine and I was thinking of simply shooting a few under par on the back. But the putts kept dropping. Last week I hit the ball well but didn't hole anything. I then switched to the belly putter during the weekend and started to feel more comfortable on the greens," added Chia.


 


The burly Kiradech, a former world junior amateur champion, unleashed his potential with a strong start to lead the chasing pack. The 20-year-old sank eighth birdies against two bogeys.



"I am happy with my game today. I came back from Japan last week and wasn't doing too good. But this week, everything is good as I feel at home in Malaysia as the course is almost similar the golf courses back in Thailand," said Kiradech.



"It is only the first day but I hope to maintain my form. In every event that I play in, I hope to win and it is no different here," he added.



Steel, chasing a maiden Asian Tour title, shot five birdies for an unblemished card, thanks to a new putter in his bag. He is also determined to bury last year's disappointment where he finished third in the Worldwide Holdings Selangor Masters.



"I've not been playing well the past few weeks and putting a score like that on this course, I'm quite happy. The course was a little softer after the rain (in the morning). I changed my putter yesterday and I made a few putts from off the green," said Steel. 


 


The powerful Kamte, winner of the season-opening Asian Tour International in Thailand, played alongside Kiradech and matched his rival blow-for-blow with four birdies, one eagle and one bogey.



The South African encountered a bizarre incident on the 16th green upon the resumption of play when an over-enthusiastic course worker blew his golf ball off the green with a leaf blower.



"I hit my second shot onto the 16th green and then I heard this blowing sound and there was this guy blowing the leaves and my ball was among the leaves and it started rolling out of the green! Luckily some TV guys saw the incident and I got a relief from the rules official and replaced my ball back on the green," said Kamte.



A total of 21 players will return tomorrow to the course at 7.45am on Thursday to resume their first round.



Play was suspended for an hour and 15 minutes due to a lightning storm this morning.



Leading first round scores



64 - Danny Chia (MAS)


65 - Kiradech Aphibarnrat (THA)


66 - James Kamte (RSA), Iain Steel (MAS), Darren Beck (AUS)


67 - Jbe Kruger (RSA), Shaaban Hussin (MAS), Anirban Lahiri (IND), Noh Seung-yul (KOR)


68 - Rahil Gangjee (IND), Pariya Junhasavasdikul (THA), Rick Kulacz (AUS), Mitchell Brown (AUS), Panuwat Muenlek (THA)


69 - Scott Hend (AUS), Andrew Dodt (AUS), S. Siva Chandhran (MAS), M. Sasidaran (MAS), Siddikur (BAN), Chinnarat Phadungsil (THA), Juvic Pagunsan (PHI), Digvijay Singh (IND), Mars Pucay (PHI), Bae Sang-moon (KOR), Yeh Chang-ting (TPE)



For further information, please contact Asian Tour's Chuah Choo Chiang or Doyle De Costa at the media centre tel: +603 7805 7710. Also visit www.asiantour.com for Live Scoring starting on Wednesday.



About the Worldwide Holdings Selangor Masters 2009


The Worldwide Holdings Selangor Masters will be staged at Seri Selangor Golf Club from August 5 to 8, 2009 and offer RM1 million (US$300,000) in total prize money. The event, which made its Asian Tour debut last year, is title sponsored by Worldwide Holdings Berhad while other sponsors include Permodalan Negeri Selangor Berhad, CIMB Group, Majlis Bandaraya Shah Alam, Majlis Perbandaran Sepang and Majlis Perbandaran Selayang. The event is also supported by Srixon, 100Plus and Ricoh.


 


About the Asian Tour


As the official sanctioning body for professional golf in Asia, the Asian Tour leads the development of golf across the region, enhancing the careers of its members while maintaining a commitment to the integrity of the game. The Asian Tour, through its membership of the International Federation of PGA Tours, is the only recognised pan-Asian professional golf tour in Asia.  This unique feature positions the Asian Tour at the pinnacle of professional golf in Asia; providing its events with Official World Ranking status. Tour Partners include ESPN Star Sports (Official Regional TV Broadcaster), Pin High (Official Apparel Partner), Ricoh (Official Office Solutions Provider) and Srixon (Official Ball). Sentosa, Singapore's premier island resort getaway, is the Home of the Asian Tour.