Thongchai On a Mission

Wed 30 Jan 2013

Thongchai On a Mission

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Kuala Lumpur, January 30: Asian Tour legend Thongchai Jaidee has moved to within touching reach of the world’s top-50 which will earn him a return to the prestigious Masters Tournament in April.
The Thai star has enjoyed a flying start to his 2013 campaign with three successive top-10s in South Africa and the Middle East to jump to 53rd position on the latest Official World Golf Ranking.
Players ranked in the top-50 the week prior to the Masters Tournament will earn invitations and Thongchai is certainly eyeing a place in the elite field, especially when countryman and reigning Asian Tour number one Thaworn Wiratchant is already in the year’s opening Major after receiving a special invitation from Augusta National.
Thongchai, who started the year in 80th place on the world rankings, finished third in the Volvo Golf Champions in South Africa and subsequently posted tied ninth finishes in Abu Dhabi and Qatar.
The former paratrooper will continue his quest when he tees up in the Omega Dubai Desert Classic starting from tomorrow where he has drawn the top pairing with England’s Lee Westwood and last week’s Qatar Masters champion Chris Wood.
Thongchai first played in the Masters Tournament in 2006 but missed the halfway cut. He earned a return in 2010 but retired in the second round due to an elbow injury.
The 43-year-old, who holds an unprecedented three Asian Tour Order of Merit crowns and 13 titles in Asia, enjoyed a memorable 2012 campaign when he notched his first victory on European soil with his triumph at the ISPS Handa Wales Open.
He ended the season last month with a third place finish at the season-ending Iskandar Johor Open in Malaysia and has continued to ride on his momentum with his fast start to the 2013 season.
Thongchai is presently the highest ranked Asian Tour member in the world. Korea’s K.J. Choi, an honorary member of the Asian Tour, is two rungs behind the Thai while Australian Marcus Fraser, who finished second on the Order of Merit last season, is in 58th place and also fighting to break into the top-50.
Thaworn, who became the oldest man at 45 years old to win the Order of Merit last season, is ranked 70th, while Fijian Vijay Singh, another honorary member, is 89th followed by Indian duo Gaganjeet Bhullar and Jeev Milkha Singh in 94th and 95th position respectively.
The other members in the world’s top-200 include Y.E. Yang of Korea (118th), Filipino Juvic Pagunsan (122nd), Korea’s Kim Hyung-sung (126th), Thailand’s Prom Meesawat (147th) and South Africa’s Jbe Kruger (159th).
About the Asian Tour
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), Inetol Headwear (Official Headwear Supplier), 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.