Presidents Cup Q&A with Thongchai

Thu 09 Jul 2015

Presidents Cup Q&A with Thongchai

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July 9: Thai star Thongchai Jaidee, the only player to win three Asian Tour Order of Merit crowns, is poised to make the International Team for the Presidents Cup against the United States in Korea in October. In this Q&A, he talks about the prospect of making his debut in the team event and how the Asian Tour has pushed him in his highly decorated career.
What are your thoughts the prospect of making the International Team for the first time for the Presidents Cup?
Thongchai: I’m thrilled and excited with the opportunity. I’ve played in almost every major golf event and the Presidents Cup is one of the last in my to-do list to tick off.Maybank Malaysian Open 2015
With the Presidents Cup being held in Asia for the first time, how do you think this event will impact the development of the game in this region?
Thongchai: Of course this will help boost the exposure of the game and create more attention. We need to have more of these events in our region. It has been getting better every year. We now have PGA TOUR, European Tour co-sanctioned events with the Asian Tour in Asia plus the WGC-HSBC Champions as well.
Have you been pleased with how you’ve performed this year where you’ve got two runner-up finishes including at the BMW PGA Championship in England?
Thongchai: Yes I am definitely happy. Winning an event would be better but I’m happy with my performance so far.
At the 45 years old, you’re the oldest player in the current top-10 of the International Team rankings. How do you think you can contribute to the team in Korea?
Thongchai: Apart from my playing abilities, I can be a mentor to the younger players. My experience can help in planning our strategies.
Your first Asian Tour victory was achieved in 2000 in Korea and you’ve got two wins in the country now. What do you recall from that first victory and how special was it?
Thongchai: My first win was like a jump-start in my career especially on the Asian Tour. It gave me so much confidence that I can do well in the region. (Note: Thongchai is the only player to win three Asian Tour Order of Merit titles)
Anirban Lahiri of India Anirban Lahiri of India
You’ve set up an academy and the Thongchai Jaidee Foundation in your hometown of Lopburi to help underprivileged golfers. Tell us more about this project and why you started it?
Thongchai: I started the TJ Foundation purely from my passion. I grew up through poverty and I know how is it like. What I’d like to do is to provide an opportunity for kids in the form of schooling, lessons and accommodation. After the completion of the program, they can go on to have career in golf or outside of golf.
You were runner-up in the Volvo Match Play in Bulgaria several years ago and captained Asia to a 10-10 draw with Europe at the inaugural EurAsia Cup in Malaysia last year. How much do you enjoy Match Play golf and why?
Thongchai: Matchplay is the format I like the most! Strokeplay is basically you playing with the golf course but matchplay turns the game into a head-to-head with another player. I like the mentality aspect the Matchplay.
As the only player to win three Asian Tour Order of Merit crowns, how has the region’s premier Tour helped in your career?
Thongchai: It’s given me so much of valuable experience. You know the feeling when you get into the position where you’re confident you have done something great and you feel ready for the bigger stage.
You’ve also won 13 times on the Asian Tour and have also won twice on European soli in Wales and Sweden, on the European Tour. What have been the key reasons to your success?
Thongchai: Outside of game, it has to be behavior and discipline. It’s a big part along the line with skill.
The United States team has dominated the Presidents Cup over the years. What will be the one thing that you be telling your Thongchai Jaideeteammates in Korea?
Thongchai: Anything can happen in matchplay. It’ll be many players’ first time in the Presidents Cup so all of us will give nothing less than 100%. That’s the mentality I will encourage the team.
At 45, you’re also the oldest player in the world’s top-50. What keeps you going in this game and how do you maintain your good form at this age in a game which is getting younger?
Thongchai: I stay fit and eat healthily. I always find myself outside of golf to relax too and that gives me comfort and less pressure.
With Matsuyama, Lahiri and yourself in the running to make the International Team, that’s four Asians out of the top-10 of the rankings. What does this tell you about the Asian golfers?
Thongchai: There’s a positive trend in this and it’ll be upward from now onwards. With these great young golfers coming up, it’ll be really an exciting time for the region.