Johor Bahru, November 15: Malaysia’s top professional player, Danny Chia will spearhead the charge of the local brigade at the US$2 million Iskandar Johor Open starting this Thursday at the Horizon Hills Golf & Country Club.
Danny, 39, is one of the 12 Malaysian players in the field this week alongside Ben Leong, Iain Steel and Shaaban Hussin, who all qualified through their Asian Tour rankings. Eight others – M. Sasidaran, R. Nachimuthu, Wilson Choo, S. Murthy, S. Sivachandhran, Nicholas Fung, Haziq Hamizan and Mohd Sukree Othman – qualified through the national qualifier early this month.
Danny, who had a solid finish at the CIMB Asia Pacific Classic Malaysia two weeks ago in tied 13th place, will be looking at another good performance this week on a golf course which he dubs as “my type of golf course”.
“Horizon Hills is a good layout. I love the golf course and the key this week will be putting. Generally, I’m hitting ok but my putting will need to be better to score on this layout,” said Danny.
In last year’s edition, Danny shot a final round 68 to end the week on 284 total for a share of 38th place and he knows the competition will be tougher this week with many top players from both the European and Asian Tours in the field.
“It’s good that the championship is now joint sanctioned by the European and Asian Tours. The competition will be huge as usual but this is good for the local boys as we get to compete against some of the world’s best players,” Danny added.
Ben Leong, 25, who finished as the best Malaysian in the championship last year on tied 28th hopes for better luck this week to brighten up his lackluster season.
“I’ve been struggling a little bit. I’ve been hitting it good but wasn’t getting the result. Everything wasn’t combining together. I feel it is just a matter of time before the results come. I need to keep believing in myself. I know I’m hitting, chipping and putting good enough. The results are just not showing but I know sooner or later my hard work will pay off,” said the 2008 Worldwide Selangor Masters champion.
“I was playing very well last week (at the Barclays Singapore Open) but was unlucky with the putts. If the ball could fly another one yard, I would have probably made par instead of a double bogey. There’s a little bit of luck involved. You don’t know when the day is going to come but I’ll keep grinding and trusting in myself,” he added.
The Iskandar Johor Open 2011 will boast a field of 156 players consisting of 67 players each from the Asian and European Tours, eight invites, eight national qualifiers and six international qualifiers, all vying for the top purse of US$317,000 (approximately RM954, 000).
For more information on the tournament, please visit www.iskandarjohoropen.com.