Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Thongchai gets to grips with surprise Open place
By Tony Jimenez
LYTHAM ST ANNES, England (Reuters) - Thongchai Jaidee has taken a grip of his golf game, literally, and hopes his new-found confidence can help him challenge at the British Open, an event he was not even due to play in a month ago.
The 42-year-old Thai, galvanised by a tip from his coach, has made 10 consecutive cuts in Asia and Europe since mid-April and won the Wales Open at Celtic Manor in June.
"This week's British Open was not on my schedule," said Thongchai on Tuesday. "I never thought about qualifying as I didn't know about the mini-ranking on the European Tour.
"I'm surprised I have got in. This week is a special week and I'm looking forward to it."
Thongchai booked his appearance at the third major of the year after finishing in the top two in a mini European Tour money list following the Irish Open two and a half weeks ago.
Injuries led to a loss of form last season but Thongchai is now fully fit again and advice from coach Peter Wolfenstetter in Seville in May has made a huge difference to his game.
"I used to hold the club in my palm and the grip was loose sometimes when I hit the ball," said the triple Asian Tour number one. "Now I use my fingers more to hold the club.
"I'm more confident now. After Seville I won in Wales ... it was amazing as it came so fast.
"I have always dreamt of winning in Europe and now I've done it. I've got two more years of exemption and I can concentrate on winning more tournaments," added Thongchai.
(Editing by Ed Osmond)