10th Season Celebration: Up close with Thongchai

Wed 12 Jun 2013

10th Season Celebration: Up close with Thongchai

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Kuala Lumpur, June 12: As the Asian Tour continues to celebrate its milestone 10th season in 2013 as a players’ organisation, we talk to some of Asia’s golfing greats about their journey on the region’s premier Tour. This week, we catch up with Thai ace Thongchai Jaidee, the only man to win three Order of Merit crowns in Asia.
Tell us about how you got into professional golf and what the Asian Tour means to you now?
I started golf quite late. I turned pro when I was 29. I like the Asian Tour because I was born on the Asian Tour. I started playing competitively on this Tour and it has given me a lot of experience. It is very exciting to see the Asian Tour growing bigger now.
Over the past decade, you’ve played globally due to your success. Do you always make it a point to return and compete on the Asian Tour?
I won’t forget about the Asian Tour. If I have time to be back and play on the Asian Tour, I will do so. I know the Asian Tour is doing really well now. The prize money is enough and we have a lot of strong players coming up and a lot of young players are also coming up.
Thongchai Jaidee.You’ve won many times on the Asian Tour. Which one was the best?
I have won 13 tournaments in my career on the Asian Tour. The 2001 Korean Open was my first tournament win and it was very exciting to get my first title. The other big win was also the 2009 Ballantine’s Championship in Korea as it was so cold at that time. I’ve never won in those conditions before.
Growing up as an amateur golfer, who were your golfing heroes?
When I started playing, Boonchu Ruangkit was a big hero for me in my country. Boonchu has time for everyone and he helps them to improve and become a good player. And the second player whom I looked up to was Ernie Els.
You’ve played all around the world. Which is your favourite place to play golf?
I have been to so many good places. I like America as they have a lot of good golf courses. Definitely I like Thailand too because it’s my home country. There are also many top courses in Asia too.
What was your biggest challenge in your career?
In 2008, I had a very bad injury. I think that was one my very bad years. I had to go for treatment for about eight months to improve. Another bad experience was at the Masters Tournament in 2010 as I had an arm injury and was forced to withdraw on the second day. I was very sad about that.
Who do you think can emulate your success on the Asian Tour?
If I can pick one, I think Kiradech Aphibarnrat will be my choice. He has everything. I think Kiradech has got a very big future ahead in my mind.
After winning for the first time on European soil last year, what do you hope to achieve before 2013 concludes?
The main thing this year is for me to be in the top 50 of the world rankings, that’s my key goal. And also if I can get back into the Masters Tournament, that would be my dream. (Note: Thongchai is ranked 52nd in the world this week)
What about life after professional golf … have you thought about that?
I know age is very important. We are getting older and you cannot hit the ball longer. If I can still hit the ball well, I can play on the Seniors Tour. If not, I already have a plan in my life which is my golf school. I also have started a restaurant business of my own.
About Thongchai
Country: Thailand
Date Of Birth: November 8, 1969
Residence: Lop Buri, Thailand
Family: Married, 2 children
Turned Pro: 1999
About the Asian Tour
In 2013, the Asian Tour will celebrate a momentous milestone with its 10th season. As the official sanctioning body for professional golf in Asia, the Asian Tour leads the development of golf across the region, enhancing the careers of its members while maintaining a commitment to the integrity of the game. The Asian Tour, through its membership of the International Federation of PGA Tours, is the only recognised pan-Asian professional golf tour in Asia. This unique feature positions the Asian Tour at the pinnacle of professional golf in Asia; providing its events with Official World Ranking status. Tour Partners include Abacus (Official Apparel Partner), BlackBerry (Official Communications Partner), Canon (Official Imaging Partner), Inetol Headwear (Official Headwear Supplier), Saxo Capital Markets (Official Statistics Partner), Singha Beer (Official Beer), Srixon (Official Ball), Starwood Hotels and Resorts (Official Hotels and Resorts) and Rolex (Official Timekeeper). The Asian Tour has offices in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. Also, visit us at www.asiantour.com, www.facebook.com/asiantourgolf, www.twitter.com/asiantourgolf, www.youtube.com/theasiantour and www.weibo.com/asiantourgolf