Taipei, Taiwan: Danny Chia held his nerve to end a 13-year Asian Tour title drought with a two-stroke triumph at the US$650,000 Mercuries Taiwan Masters.
Starting the round with a one-shot deficit, the Malaysian fired three birdies in his opening five holes to take the lead. He remained in top spot for the rest of the day, sealing the deal with a tap-in par save on the 18th for a one-over 73 and a winning total of three-under 285 at the Taiwan Golf and Country Club’s Tamsui Course.
Overnight leader Liang Wen-chong of China settled for second place after closing with three straight bogeys for a 76 while Adilson Da Silva of Brazil and Indian Rashid Khan shared third on 289 after returning with rounds of 72 and 76 respectively.
Hung Chien-yao was the highest-placed local player, carding a third straight 72 to finish a further shot back in joint fifth place with Singapore-based Australian Unho Park, who returned a 70.
Chia, who last won on the Asian Tour in 2002, also in Chinese Taipei, said he was trying to overcome his nerves which started to creep in when he made his first bogey of the day on the par-four 11th. He went on to drop further shots on 15, 16 and 17.
“I was really nervous heading into the last five holes. I told myself not to think too much, but I just can’t help it. I thought my hands were shaking but I am actually shaking inside my heart. I started to feel nervous when I bogeyed 11. I got a little flustered on the back nine,” said the 42-year-old.
“It’s been a long while, really. I couldn’t sleep last night. I thought of my win 13 years ago. This win is a great boost of confidence for me, especially having stayed away from competitive golf for close to one year after my neck surgery in 2013. I am glad I held up my mental game this week.”
Asian Tour victory, Liang held his head high and tipped his hat to Chia for his perseverance.
“Even though Danny got off to a strong start, I didn’t panic. It was hard to read the greens and surely a disappointing end to the round but I still enjoyed my game. Danny played really good. He has persevered for so long. I think he really deserves the win,” said the 37-year-old Liang.
Chia took home the first prize of US$130,000, propelling him to eighth position on the Asian Tour Order of Merit with a season’s haul of US$188,138.