Local hero Chia shines in Malaysia

Local star Danny Chia charged up the leaderboard at the CIMB Asia Pacific Classic with a polished second round of 65 on Friday.

Golf News: Danny Chia

In addition, his performances earned him a dream third round pairing with Malaysia's favourite adopted son, Vijay Singh of Fiji.

Chia brilliantly fired seven birdies against a lone bogey at the Mines Resort and Golf Club for equal 13th place on six-under-par 136, seven shots behind halfway leaders Jeff Overton and Fredrik Jacobson at the US$6.1 million event sanctioned by the Asian Tour and PGA Tour.

Singh, a two-time Malaysian Open champion and a three-time Major champion, also hauled himself up the leaderboard with an impressive 64.

Chinnarat Phadungsil of Thailand, a three-time Asian Tour winner, was also tied 13th after a solid 66 while compatriot Kiradech Aphibarnrat was a further stroke back.

Chia's decision to take a cautious approach on the tee box paid off handsomely as he moved up some 20 spots in the elite 48-man field.

"I told myself I needed to be patient and the birdies would come. The minute you hit a good shot, you will be rewarded with a birdie. There's no point for me to be aggressive and go for everything," said Chia, who has won once on the Asian Tour.

The winner of the CIMB Asia Pacific Classic, Malaysia will receive a cool US$1.3 million top prize but Chia is not getting ahead of himself just yet.

"I try not to think far ahead. I'm just trying to enjoy every hole that comes along. If it happens then it is great, if not, at least I given myself a chance to play well," said the 38-year-old.

"I thought about it (the prize money) last week but the minute I teed off here, I enjoyed playing the round and didn't think much about what this week was worth," he added.

Chinnarat, the youngest ever Asian Tour champion after winning the 2005 Double A International Open on home soil at the age of 17 years and five days while as an amateur, credited his radar guided tee shots for his round of six birdies against one bogey.

"I hit every fairway today [Friday] except on the last hole. I could have recovered but topped my chip! I worked at the driving range (Thursday) to get my rhythm back and it seemed to work for me," said Chinnarat.

Thailand's Kiradech, winner of the SAIL Open in India earlier this year, was on a relentless charge with three straight birdies from the 15th hole before dropping his third bogey of the day on the last hole for a 67.

"I'm not in top form to catch the leaders. I'm hitting my driver very good but my iron play has been disappointing. My coach is coming this weekend and hopefully we can work out my iron play," said Kiradech, who is a former world junior champion.

Asian Tour honorary member Jeev Milkha Singh of India rued a cold putter where he was three-under for the day before dropping a stroke on the last hole. He finished on 69 to lie in tied 25th place.

"I'm quite disappointed. I could have easily finished on four-under. The putter let me down. At least I'm hitting it a lot better. I just need to work on the short game," said the two-time Asian Tour Order of Merit winner.

Shaaban Hussin, the second Malaysian in the field at the Mines Resort, fired a second successive 72 for a 144 total. He birdied the opening hole but lost momentum when he mishit his chip on the fourth hole.

"After I birdied the first hole, I thought I would burn the course. But I lost my confidence with my bogey on the fourth hole. I duffed my chip and that was a huge mistake," he admitted.

He was not surprised with Chia's impressive round and said he needed to step up his game.
"He is the best player in Malaysia. I hope to draw some confidence from Danny's round. Hopefully I can play as well as him," said Shaaban, who is in tied 44th place.

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