Danny Chia is Tokyo-bound to resume quest for Japan Golf Tour card

Photo by Masuti Ahmadi

Malaysian icon Danny Chia heads to Tokyo tomorrow as he resumes his quest to regain a place on the Japan Golf Tour.

Danny played on the lucrative Japanese circuit in 2018 after earning his card via qualifying school, but failed to keep it after a disappointing season. Last year, he progressed to the final stage of qualifying but failed to make it past the 72-hole cut.

The veteran star will have to serve a 14-day quarantine upon arrival at Narita Airport and will swing into action barely a week after he gets out, teeing off in the Delight Works Challenge (October 21-23) at Toride Kokusai Golf Club in Ibaraki. The ¥15,000,000 (approx. US$142,000) tournament is the final event on the 2020 schedule of the Japan Golf Tour’s secondary circuit, the Abema TV Tour, where Danny holds a full card.

He will then throw in his challenge in the first stage of the main tour’s qualifying tournament, which will be held at seven venues. The 47-year-old tees off in the qualifier at Itsuura Teien Country Club in Fukishima on November 17-20, from where he hopes to progress to the second and final stage in December. This year’s Japan Golf Tour qualifying tournament has only two stages.

“Whether I make it past the first stage or not, I plan to stay on in Japan as there are many small one-day or two-day tournaments to play in,” said Danny, who holds a yearly-renewable resident pass in Japan.

“The number of players who progress from each leg of the first stage depends on the final number of entries. I think there are only 13 tour cards available from the final stage but I’ll give it my best shot,” he added.

Danny got in some much-needed tournament practice during last week’s PGM MNRB Championship at Glenmarie Golf & Country Club, where he finished eighth after rounds of 73, 72, 76 and 66.

“My ball-striking is good but I was experimenting with an armlock putting grip during the first three rounds at Glenmarie,” said Danny. “Theoretically it should reduce small movements but I was unable to adjust and reverted to my normal grip for the last round.”

Danny has struggled with back and neck injuries in the past and had to undergo corrective surgery in 2013. He is largely pain-free now and in fact has been building up his strength through resistance training, using the Lila Exogen Wearable Resistance Forearm Sleeves.

“Using the Lila sleeves has really helped me increase my strength and speed. I feel I can swing harder now and that also took some getting used to,” he shared.

This will be the second time that Danny has had to undergo quarantine, having spent two weeks of isolation at the Le Meridien Putrajaya Hotel in May after returning from Japan. He had been there preparing to play on the Abema TV Tour when the Movement Control Order was enforced in Malaysia on March 18 and was unable to get a flight home until mid-May.

In a storied career since turning professional in 1996, Danny set numerous milestones for the country including becoming the first Malaysian to play all four rounds of a Major in the 2010 Open Championship at St Andrews. He is still the only Malaysian to have won twice on the Asian Tour with his victories in the 2002 Acer Taiwan Open and 2015 Mercuries Taiwan Masters.

By Jonathan Ponniah

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