Liverpool, England: Thai Thongchai Jaidee heads into this week’s Open Championship with his confidence in full bloom as he seeks to challenge the world’s best for a Major victory.
The triple Asian Tour number one has enjoyed an outstanding run of form with one victory and two top-five finishes in his last four tournaments on European soil to rise to a career high 34th on the Official World Golf Ranking.
With his game in full groove, the 44-year-old hopes to contend at The Open Championship where his best performance remains a tied 13th finish at Turnberry in 2009.
“Playing at The Open has been very challenging to me. Regardless of how good or bad the form is, if you can’t catch the tempo during the week, then you realise it’s a tough job. For me, coming into the Open is always the same. I keep having the belief that I can shoot better and better scores but I do not want to think too much about the finish position,” said Thongchai.
He claimed a second title on European soil at the Nordea Masters in Sweden last month, defeating local hero Henrik Stenson and followed up with a fifth place finish in Germany and a joint second outing at the French Open where he finished one shot shy of winner Graeme McDowell.
“I still feel great about my game. I’ve been playing up to my expectation especially last week in France. I feel confident going to The Open,” said the Thai.
With an unprecedented three Asian Tour Order of Merit crowns and 13 career victories in Asia and two in Europe, Thongchai is regarded as one of the finest ever Asian golfers. He was also voted by his peers as the Player of the Decade (2004-2013) when the Asian Tour celebrated its 10th season last year.
But despite his enormous success, the former paratrooper longs for a Major breakthrough. A career-best sixth place at the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship in the United States earlier this season has only reinforced his self-belief that he has the game and mindset to top a world-class field.
Four years ago, Thongchai had brush at winning the Claret Jug when he entered the final day just four shots off the lead before finishing equal 13th after closing with a two-over-par 72. Stewart Cink defeated Tom Watson in a play-off that year.
“Asian players have more opportunities to win Major championships as time goes by,” said Thongchai.
“I learned two things from my experience in 2009. One is that anyone can win a big event as long as you play well that week. I felt so good with my performance that year. But on the other hand, I also learned that in order to win a Major, playing good might not be good enough. You need to play your very best. My experience from 2009 will give me more confidence when I go to Royal Liverpool.”