Monday, 25 August 2014 | MYT 3:08 AM
Danny in prime position for CIMB Classic slot
Danny Chia holds a commanding six-under 66 lead after the first round of the SapuraKencana National Qualifier.
KUALA LUMPUR: Danny Chia birdied his closing two holes for a flawless six-under 66 to hold a commanding three-shot lead after the first round of the SapuraKencana National Qualifier on Monday.
The 41-year-old Danny, who won the National Qualifier in 2012, returned with six birdies to lead from an in-form Ben Leong at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club, West course.
Airil Rizman was a further two shots back in third after posting a 71 in the RM150,000 event which rewards the winner with a spot in the CIMB Classic, which is sanctioned by the PGA Tour and Asian Tour from Oct 30 to Nov 2.
Starting from the 10th tee, Danny needed a huge lift off in the second half after turning in 35. He burst into life with three straight birdies starting from the third hole and ended with a flourish to put himself in prime position for the CIMB Classic for the third time.
“On the back I started to hit better with my irons and the putts dropped so I gained a bit of confidence with my putting. I wasn’t being too greedy. I tried to hit the fairways and find the greens and hopefully hole my putts,” he said.
The popular Malaysian has been struggling with injuries since 2013 and his latest setback was a back injury earlier this month which forced him out of competitive golf for several weeks.
Meanwhile Ben continued his rich vein of form after winning a local event last week. The slender Malaysian posted four birdies against one bogey with the highlight of his round being a brilliant birdie on 13 which came after he rifled his five iron to three feet.
“I’ve been playing well. Every part of my game is good. I felt quite relaxed out and I’m happy with the result,” said Ben, who is aiming to qualify for the CIMB Classic for the first time.