handa.perthMalaysia’s Danny Chia opened his campaign with a one-over-par 73 after he struggled to match the pace of play at the A$1.75 million ISPS Handa Perth International on Thursday.

Chia, a two-time Asian Tour winner, stayed in the mix in his opening front-nine after trading three birdies and a bogey for an outward 34 at the Lake Karrinyup Country Club.

However, it was a contrasting tale of fortunes in the back-nine for the 43-year-old who was playing alongside France’s Romain Wattel and Australia’s Mathew Goggin.

Their group was put on the clock which left the Malaysian frustrated as he subsequently committed several costly mistakes.

“I’m not really pleased with my round as I had a bit of a hiccup during the middle of my round. I was doing well in my front-nine but it changed when the referee started chasing us during the middle of the round.

“I rushed myself a little bit over there and that was where I started losing my rhythm. I don’t always feel comfortable in situations like these when I’m being hurried,” said Chia.

Chia dropped three shots with a bogey and double-bogey on 12 and 13. He birdied 15 but gave that shot back immediately on 16 before signing for a 73.

Despite losing ground with the leaders at the Perth showpiece which is seeing the return of the best players from the Asian Tour to Australia after a seven-year absence, Chia is still upbeat of his chances.

“It’s not over. Tomorrow will be better,” said Chia, who trails American leader Peter Uihlein by eight shots going intotomorrow’s second round.

Malaysia’s other representative at the ISPS Handa Perth International, Nicholas Fung meanwhile posted a 74 after being made to toil with the fast green speed.

“The greens were really quick and fast today. I misread lots of putts and the conditions were totally different from my practice rounds,” said Fung.

The ISPS Handa Perth International is the only golf tournament in Australia to be tri-sanctioned by the Asian Tour, PGA Tour of Australasia and European Tour.

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