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Golf: Thailand’s Thongchai recharged and ready for Masters attack

Thai legend Thongchai Jaidee has a best finish of 37th in three visits to the Masters. Photo: Asian Tour.

Thai legend Thongchai Jaidee has a best finish of 37th in three visits to the Masters. Photo: Asian Tour.

April 6, 2015: A refreshed Thongchai Jaidee believes he’s hitting the golf ball better than ever as he prepares to launch another worthy challenge at the Masters Tournament at Augusta National, where he tied for 37th last year.

 

The Thai legend hopes a month-long break from tournament play ahead of the season’s first Major will ignite his game this week.

 

A return to Augusta will bring back good memories for the celebrated Thai golfer as he made the halfway cut last year in his third attempt at the Masters Tournament, which completed a career goal of playing in all four rounds of every Major.

 

Like most, the World No. 43 desires a Major win in his resume and despite his advanced age, the veteran believes the Masters offers the best opportunity for him to contend.

 

“I feel I’m ready for the upcoming Masters Tournament. I’ve had a full month of not playing in tournaments and was instead getting myself ready for the Masters,” Thongchai said.

 

“I’ve been hitting the ball better despite my advancing age, but I’m good in trying to keep my body fit and healthy by doing regular gym work. I stay fit all the time to make sure that my golf is at its best.”

 

Thongchai, joint runner-up in the inaugural True Thailand Classic in February, knows he cannot be overly aggressive at Augusta National despite his eagerness to feature on the leaderboard.

 

“I’ve learned a lot from my three visits to Augusta National,” said Thongchai, who missed the cut on his debut in 2006 and had to withdraw in 2010.

 

“It’s not a golf course where you can go aggressive as it will punish you, especially around the greens. You need to be steady and consistent to play each shot and try to make birdies when there is a good opportunity.”

 

Despite it being his fourth visit, he cannot wait to take the drive down Magnolia Lane and compete in the popular par-three tournament staged on the eve of the tournament.

 

“Augusta National is a unique course unlike the other Majors where they switch different courses every year,” he said. “There is so much tradition at the Masters Tournament, such as the par-three contest. It’ll be a good week.”

 

In recent years, the former paratrooper – the only player to win three Asian Tour Order of Merit crowns – has firmly established himself as a leading international golfer. Last June, he won the Nordea Masters in Sweden for his sixth European Tour title and second in Europe.

 

A 13-time Asian Tour winner, Thongchai is also in contention to qualify for the International Team for the Presidents Cup against the United States in Korea this October, as he currently lies seventh on the team ranking.

 

YE Yang remains Asia’s lone male Major winner following his success in the 2009 PGA Championship, but Thongchai believes it will only be a matter of time before other Asian golfers win one of the big four.

 

“It’s true we haven’t seen any Asians breaking through, but as time goes by, we can expect more wins from Asian players,” he said.

 

“Development of golf needs time and these days, I see golfers from Japan and Korea have been coming out strong and representing our continent on the world stage. A country like India is also doing well. But at the end of the day, it needs time.”

 

Source: Asian Tour (www.asiantour.com); Editing by SportAsia

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