Veteran Danny Chia secured his sixth appearance at the prestigious CIMB Classic after defeating rising star Gavin Green with a birdie on the second hole of a sudden-death play-off at the CIMB National Championship on Friday.
Overnight leader Chia battled to a final round of three-under-par 69 at TPC Kuala Lumpur after overcoming an early triple bogey with eight birdies for a tournament aggregate of eight-under-par 280.
Trailing by three at the start of the day, Green forced extra time with a glorious 66 highlighted by seven birdies. After both players shot pars in the first extra hole at the par five 18th hole, Chia then claimed his third success at the qualifying tournament for the CIMB Classic with a birdie from six feet.
With the CIMB National Championship, previously known as the SapuraKencana National Classic, offering a coveted spot in October’s US$7 million CIMB Classic only to the winner, the 23-year-old Green will take heart that he will likely earn a spot in the PGA TOUR tournament through the Asian Tour’s Order of Merit.
Currently fourth on the money rankings, Green needs to remain in the top-10 as of October 9 to qualify for the CIMB Classic for the second successive year. The highest ranked Malaysian on the Official World Golf Ranking as of October 2will also earn a spot in the CIMB Classic.
Rookie professional Amir Nazrin Jailani finished a creditable third after signing off with a 69, which included a missed birdie attempt at the 18th hole which would have put him into the play-off while Ben Leong, who held a one-shot lead at the turn, settled for fourth position following a 70 to finish two back of the play-off duo.
Did you know:
· Danny Chia, who held the second round and third round leads this week, triple bogeyed his second hole. It was his second triple bogey of the week after he triple bogeyed the 12th hole in the third round. However, he fought back with eight birdies, including a run of six birdies over an eight-hole stretch from the sixth to 13thholes. He also carded bogeys on five and 14.
· Chia also won the qualifying tournament in 2012 and 2014. He holds the most appearance by a Malaysian golfer in the CIMB Classic where he featured previously in 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2016. His best finish was tied 13th in 2011.
· Chia has won two times on the Asian Tour – the 2002 Taiwan Open and 2015 Mercuries Taiwan Open. His best finish on the Order of Merit in Asia was eighth place in 2015. This season, Chia’s best finish on the Asian Tour was tied ninth at the Queen’s Cup in Thailand in June.
· Gavin Green, who defeated Ben Leong in a play-off at the qualifying event last year, shot seven birdies at the third, fourth, fifth, ninth, 10th, 14th and 17th holes, with a lone bogey on the eighth hole, to force a play-off. He missed birdie attempts from 20 feet and 15 feet in the play-off holes.
· Amir Nazrin Jailani matched his career best finish on the local tour by finishing third. He shot six birdies against three bogeys in his round of 69. He also finish third at the Port Dickson Championship in April.
· The CIMB National Championship, which is sanctioned by the Professional Golf Association of Malaysia (PGAM), is also an official event on the PGM Tour.
· The CIMB Classic, which will be played from October 12 to 15, 2017, is the second tournament on the PGA TOUR’s 2017/18 schedule and is also sanctioned with the Asian Tour.
Tengku Dato’ Sri Zafrul Aziz, Group CEO of CIMB Group
We are delighted to have sponsored this competition over the past four days as Malaysia’s top golfers compete for the coveted spot at the upcoming CIMB Classic 2017. Our heartiest congratulations to Danny Chia who played a solid game and showed tremendous skill to clinch the championship title. We look forward to having him represent Malaysia at CIMB Classic 2017, where many of the world’s top golfers will compete for a total prize purse of US$7million. Our commitment is to continue growing the game in Malaysia and to make the CIMB Classic an enjoyable experience for both golfers and non-golfers alike, and we look forward to welcoming all of them at the TPC KL from 12 to 15 October 2017.
Today was by far the hardest event that I had to fight back. Getting into the CIMB Classic again is great, and winning this event, beating Gavin in a play-off is very satisfying. I made it very hard for myself. Straight off the second hole, I made a triple bogey there and for some reason it always happens to me. It’s happened so many times that it wasn’t hard for me to come back from it.
After the triple, I told myself ‘let’s play like it’s match play’ and let’s try to beat Ben Leong and Amir (Nazrin) on every hole and see what happens. It worked out well for me and I’m really pleased with that. The reason why I used this strategy was that there is no meaning finishing second in this event. My main goal was to win this tournament and get back into the CIMB Classic. I also haven’t won in a while and I didn’t want a second place. I just went all out. I’m very relieved to get into the tournament again.
The last two days, something unusual happened as I putted really well at TPC KL. Normally I can’t read the greens here too well but this week, I putted well and I hope it’ll give me the confidence at the CIMB Classic. I love this layout, so if I can putt well here, I’m going to be feeling confident.
I’ve missed so many putts this whole week which was annoying as I was hitting it good. It was a close fight to get into a play-off, third time in a row – last year in the Asian Development Tour, last year here with Ben and now today. I was saying here we go again. But the positive thing is that I’m hitting it solid and I’m looking ahead for next week (TAKE Solutions Masters in India). It’s nice for the putts to drop but if it drops next week, I’ll be more than okay with that for sure.
I should also get into the CIMB Classic through the Asian Tour Order of Merit, which is also good as the money earned at the event will count towards the Order of Merit unlike qualifying from this tournament.
I had looks for birdies on both the play-off holes. Didn’t have a good lie on both the approach shots but I gave myself looks. Danny won it with a birdie, he played solid the whole week. He made the putt to win.
Amir Nazrin Jailani
I’m happy. I just enjoyed myself. Told myself in the morning that I had nothing to lose and to just go for it. I missed my shot on 14, it was still on the green on the right but it was a tough putt from there. My long putts were not good and I left the first putt short and missed the par attempt.
On the last hole, I knew I had to birdie it to get into the play-off. It was a right to left putt but I hit it too firm and the ball went through the break. I wasn’t too disappointed really. This week, I learned a lot by playing with our top players. You just see that they stay patient and never give up.
Leading final round scores
280: Gavin Green 72-70-72-66, Danny Chia 68-70-73-69
(Chia won with a birdie on the second play-off hole)
281: Amir Nazrin Jailani 69-71-72-69
282: Ben Leong 65-76-71-70
283: Sukree Othman 70-69-76-68
288: Wilson Choo 69-71-74-74