Danny Chia wins Sapura National Qualifier to earn start in CIMB Classic

Malaysia’s top player Danny Chia shot a solid five-under-par 66 to win the RM150,000 Sapura National Qualifier and earn a second appearance at the CIMB Classic next month.

Chia fired his best score of the week for a winning total of nine-under-par 204, two shots ahead of 19-year-old Mohamad Azman, who charged up the leaderboard with a sensational 65 at the Mines Resort & Golf Club.

Overnight leader Shaaban Hussin finished third following a 73 but is expected to take up the second Malaysian slot in the CIMB Classic as he is the best ranked Malaysian on the Official World Golf Rankings after Chia.

Chia, 39, turned in 34 and cruised to victory on the homeward nine with birdies on holes 10, 11, 13 and 17.

“My focus was much better. I tried to not look at my swing and focused on shooting a low score. I know this course quite well and I knew if I played decent golf, I would be able to produce a low score,” said Chia, who pocketed a cheque for RM22,000

Chia is now relishing the opportunity of playing in the CIMB Classic again as he finished tied 13th last year and played with Asian Tour honorary member Vijay Singh of Fiji in the third round. He hopes to be paired with 14-time Major champion Tiger Woods, who will headline the US$6.1 million event sanctioned by the Asian Tour and PGA Tour.

“I’ve booked my tee times now,” he smiled. “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.”

Shaaban is hopeful he will get into the CIMB Classic for the third time through the world rankings where the cut off is October 1.

“I knew from the beginning 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.

The Founder and Chairman of Sapura Group, Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Ir. Shamsuddin Abdul Kadir, together with Dato’ Seri Shahril Shamsudin, President and Group CEO, and En Shahriman Shamsuddin, Executive Director were present at the prize giving ceremony.

“The players have definitely showed good form in the last three days and, for being able to come out on top, Danny has definitely earned his rightful spot in the CIMB Classic. Given his performance during the Sapura National Qualifier, we are indeed pleased that he will be representing Malaysia at the star-studded CIMB Classic in October,” said Dato’ Seri Shahril.

“By sponsoring this event, we hope that Sapura has given our local professionals a platform for development. Through the Sapura National Qualifier, Danny is now given the opportunity to benchmark himself against a more experienced and illustrious international field. It is our hope that he seizes this opportunity to better himself. We wish him all the best for the CIMB Classic,” added Dato’ Seri Shahril.

The CIMB Classic, celebrating its third year, will feature 48 players, with 30 coming from the PGA TOUR, 10 from the Asian Tour and 8 sponsor’s exemptions. The players will compete for a US$6.1 million prize purse, with the winner taking home a prize purse of US$1.3 million.

From 2013 onwards, the CIMB Classic will be upgraded to an Official Money Event on the PGA TOUR and will be part of the season-long FedExCup competition. The field will also be expanded to include a minimum of 78 players and will carry a total purse of US$7million.

Leading Scores

204 – DANNY CHIA 70-68-66

206 – MOHAMAD AZMAN 71-70-65

208 – SHAABAN HUSSIN 66-69-73

210 – M. SASIDARAN 70-69-71, NICHOLAS FUNG 69-70-71

211 – MOHD SUKREE OTHMAN 71-71-69

212 – LIM ENG SENG 69-73-70

214 – S. SIVA CHANDHRAN 71-72-71

215 – S. MURTHY 76-70-69

216 – NICHOLAS PUA 73-72-71

217 – MOHD RIZAL AMIN 69-75-73, MD RASHID ISMAIL 72-70-75

218 – AL MALIK FAISAL 76-74-68, AIRIL RIZMAN 74-73-71, R. NACHIMUTHU 70-76-72, ZURIE HARUN 76-68-74, WILSON CHOO 70-74-74, KEMAROL BAHARIN 71-72-75

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