The 42-year-old, who enjoyed a second Asian Tour win in Chinese Taipei last month, was disappointed with his ball striking on the opening day at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club which left him in tied 50th place and nine shots behind leader Scott Piercy of the United States.
Countryman Ben Leong birdied the 18th hole to match Chia’s round while the third Malaysian in the elite field, Arie Irawan, carded a 75 in the CIMB Classic, which is sanctioned by the Asian Tour and PGA TOUR.
“It wasn’t really a great ball striking day today,” said Chia, who is ranked seventh on the Asian Tour’s Order of Merit.
“I managed to scramble quite well, holed some good putts. Pretty happy with one-under. I think I didn’t really focused very well on most of my shots. It’s just like I feel I’m day dreaming on the golf course, I don’t know what I’m doing.”
The Malaysian veteran said the West course was there for the taking today, as proven with some low scores led by Piercy, who fired a brilliant 62 to lead by three.
“I think that if you hit to 10 feet, you’ve got a very reasonable birdie chance. And I wasn’t hitting enough greens,” said Chia, who is making his fourth appearance in the CIMB Classic.
Leong, who earned his spot by winning the SapuraKencana National Qualifier, rolled in a 20-foot birdie on his last hole to get to red numbers.
“It was a tough day definitely. I didn’t have my ‘A’ game out there. But I stayed patient, grinded it out and took it one shot at a time. Told myself to not worry about it and that I have plenty of holes to go,” said Leong.
Like Chia, he knows he needs up the ante to make a move up the leaderboard with three rounds remaining.
“Have to work on everything, a little bit on my driving, a little bit on my irons and my chipping. Putting as well. You don’t want to take anything for granted,” he said.
“The golf course is playing soft and it’s not a surprise to see seven, eight-under scores up there. It’s doable. There’re world class players out here.”