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Thursday September 13, 2012
By LIM TEIK HUAT
KUALA LUMPUR: Golfer Danny Chia staged a stunning fightback on the back nine for a solid five-under 66 to win the RM150,000 Sapura National Qualifiers at the Mines Resort and Golf Club.
He fired his best score of the week to finish with a winning total of nine-under 204 and earn a second consecutive appearance at next month’s CIMB Classic, which will be held at the same venue.
It also provides Danny with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play alongside 14-time Major winner Tiger Woods when the US$6.1mil CIMB Classic tees off on Oct 25-28.
Danny finished two shots ahead of 19-year-old Mohamad Azman, who charged up the leaderboard with a sensational 65 on the final day.
Overnight leader Shaaban Hussin finished third after a final-day 73 but he can expect to take up the second local slot in the CIMB Classic by virtue of being the best ranked Malaysian on the Official World Golf Rankings after Danny.
Danny, a winner on the Asian Tour, cranked up the power on the homeward nine with birdies on holes 10, 11, 13 and 17 for victory.
“My focus was much better today. I tried not to look at my swing and focused on shooting a low score,” he said.
”I know this course quite well and I knew that if I played decent golf, I would be able to produce a low score.”
Danny is now relishing the opportunity of playing in the signature Asian event after finishing joint 13th last year, when he was in the same flight with Asian Tour honorary member Vijay Singh of Fiji in the third round.
This time Danny’s hoping to be paired with Woods, who will headline the event which is co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour and PGA Tour.
“I’ve booked my tee times now. That’s a good thing for me. It is always great to play with guys like Vijay (Singh).
“Hopefully, I can play good enough and be paired with Tiger.
“That will be a good incentive,” said Danny.
Shaaban is hopeful of getting into the CIMB Classic for the third time – through the world rankings.
“I knew that if Danny won, I would be the next to qualify regardless of my result here. That kind of eased the pressure a bit and it shows how important the world rankings are,” said Shaaban.
Danny was later presented with the Sapura National Qualifier champion’s plaque and the winner’s purse of RM22,000.
The third edition of the CIMB Classic will feature 48 players – 30 from the PGA Tour, 10 from the Asian Tour and eight sponsors’ exemptions.
The winner of the CIMB Classic will take home US$1.3mil.
The CIMB Classic will be upgraded to an Official Money Event on the PGA Tour next year and be part of the season-long FedExCup competition.
The field will also be expanded to include a minimum of 78 players, with a total purse of US$7mil.
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