History-maker Thongchai Jaidee wants to add the Singha Thailand Open title to his long list of achievements that have seen him crowned the country’s most successful player.
His home Open is missing from an impressive curriculum vitae that includes two Asian Tour Order of Merit titles, a record 10 Asian Tour wins, and prize money topping US$2.9 million.
The 39-year-old ex-paratrooper gets his chance to become the third Thai to win the prestigious title after Suthep Meesawat and twice champion Boonchu Ruangkit when the US$500,000 Singha Thailand Open makes a welcome return to the Asian Tour schedule after a three-year absence at Laguna Phuket Golf Club from March 5-8.
Title sponsors Singha will be joined by the Thailand Convention & Exhibition Bureau and PTT Public Company Limited as premier sponsors.
Thongchai ended the 2008 season with a bang by winning back-to-back at the Hana Bank Vietnam Masters and Johnnie Walker Cambodian Open, and he knows that a victory in the Thailand Open is a real possibility if he can recreate that kind of form.
The double triumph saw him match countryman Thaworn Wiratchant’s 10 wins on the Asian Tour and edge closer to the US$3 million milestone in career winnings.
He is thrilled to be going to Phuket for another crack at the Thailand Open, which has strong links with the country’s revered King.
“I am really excited to be heading to Phuket,” said Thongchai, the first Thai to win a European Tour title. “I have played the (Laguna Phuket Golf Club) course and the winds there can be a real challenge. The par fours are quite short so it brings the average hitter (off the tee) into play. I hope to do well in the tournament.
“It will be tremendous if a Thai player can win the Thailand Open – it would be a great honor as we are playing for the King’s Trophy.”
He added that the return of the Thailand Open was a fantastic development for golf in the country,
“I would like to thank all the sponsors who are supporting the Singha Thailand Open. It’s not been played for three years and to have it back on the Asian Tour schedule is very exciting, especially for all Thai players,” he commented.
“The last time I played in the Thailand Open was back in 2004 when Boonchu (Ruangkit) won the event. We played together in the first two rounds, and I finished eighth. I didn’t play the last one in 2005.”
Thongchai heaped praise on Singha Corporation for their unrivalled sponsorship of Thai golf, including solid backing of individual players including himself.
“Singha Corporation has been a tremendous supporter of golf in Thailand where they support the local tour, development programs and professionals,” he said. “I feel really proud to have the opportunity to compete in my national Open and also in my sponsor’s event.”