Malaysia’s Danny Chia is thankful he can line up alongside the stars at this week’s US$7 million CIMB Classic after overcoming a career-threatening back surgery just over a year ago.
The Asian Tour regular now walks around with a four-inch titanium plate and two screws fused between his C4 and C5 vertebrae on his spinal cord after going under the surgeon’s knife to relief compressed nerves that left his right arm paralysed.
“I look at things a lot different now since I came back from injury,” said Chia. “At that time when I couldn’t lift up my arm, playing golf wasn’t the biggest issue for me. I think the lifestyle was something that I was worried about, like being paralyzed in my arm. It’s an honour for me to come and play again this week.”
Last June, Chia felt something was not quite right when he felt a sharp pain in his neck all through to his right shoulder. He shrugged it off with painkillers but when it became constant, he sought his doctor’s advice who confirmed his worst fears.
“In the beginning I thought it was just some small injury, and I just ignored it. I took a lot of painkillers to continue playing, and by July, I started to realize the pain was unbearable. I couldn’t even sleep and I went 48 hours without sleep,” recalled an emotional Chia.
“We did one MRI, and we couldn’t solve the problem, and it got worse and worse, and it took a lot of strength off my right arm. In total, we did three MRIs to find out the root of the problem. It was my C4 and C5 and then I had a bone spur and fragments of my bone were pressing on my nerve that controls the right arm.
“By the time we found out, I couldn’t lift up my arm, which was pretty much paralyzed and there’s no feeling in my right arm at all. I had to make a quick decision to do the surgery, and I’m glad I made that decision. After the surgery, I regained the sensation in my arm and I could try lift the arm slowly. From there, it’s just a lot of rehab, and by January, I played my first golf game, hitting my driver like 200 meters. I’ve probably regained some 80% of my strength in the arm now.”
In the past, the old Danny Chia would have been upset by missing two successive cuts on the Asian Tour as he did in the past fortnight. But he is simply grateful for every opportunity that he has to tee it up, especially in the CIMB Classic which is being played at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club.
“It’s no big deal. It’s just part of the game,” said Chia on his shortened weeks in Hong Kong and Macau.
“It’s probably a dream come true for me from last year where I couldn’t even lift up my right arm to today playing this event. I think it’s quite a big achievement considering what I have gone through,” said Chia, who qualified for this week’s showpiece sanctioned by the Asian Tour and PGA TOUR by winning the SapuraKencana National Qualifier in August.
His comeback from injury has been slow but steady. He has made the cut in six of nine Asian Tour starts this season and won on the Asian Development Tour where he defied his doctor’s orders to not play in the event.
“I’m just very pleased, and very happy to be here,” he said.
The CIMB Classic, which is sanctioned by the Professional Golf Association of Malaysia, is part of the season-long PGA TOUR FedExCup competition. The event was inaugurated in 2010 and is the only PGA TOUR event to be held in Southeast Asia.
Source: Asian Tour