Malaysian No 1 Danny Chia will make his his debut appearance in the US$8.5 million WGC-HSBC Champions, which starts this Thursday at the Sheshan International Golf Club.
The 42-year-old Chia will be the first Malaysian to play in the event, which will be headlined by American Jordan Spieth and Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy. He was first reserve from the Asian Tour’s entry list after finishing one rung below the leading four non-exempt spots from the Order of Merit, but got into the elite 78-man field when the other qualifying categories were not fulfilled.
“Yeah, it feels great to be able to qualify to play in Shanghai, which will have another elite field. So, I’m very happy about it. I heard the course is really long and it’s in perfect condition as well,” said Chia, who won the Mercuries Taiwan Masters one month ago to end a 13-year wait for his second Asian Tour title.
While he is over the moon with his late call-up into the HSBC Champions, which will be held a from Thursday, Chia knows he must recharge his batteries quickly after finishing tied-68th at the CIMB Classic on home soil on Sunday. The Asian Tour-PGA Tour co-sanctioned tournament was his 12th straight tournament which is now taking a toll on his body, he said.
“I was rather disappointed with the final round. I am just exhausted. I was trying really hard out there, but the body is just not listening. I didn’t do that bad. I just didn’t make any putts at all,” said Chia, who is ranked ninth on the Asian Tour’s Order of Merit.
He played with American Ryan Moore in the opening two rounds and enjoyed a pairing with Major winner Jason Dufner on the final day last week which opened his eyes as to what was required to compete at the highest level.
“There are hardly any weaknesses in their games. Putting wise, I think I must be amongst the bottom players on the putting stats,” he said.
“I have to try and push myself to go even further, because I think there are still a lot of things I can improve on my game.”
Chia will be joined in Shanghai by Asian Tour stars Anirban Lahiri and S.S.P. Chawrasia of India, Thongchai Jaidee and Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand, Australian Scott Hend and Andrew Dodt and Canadian Richard T. Lee.