Wednesday March 20, 2013
Thai star Thongchai hopes to tie up Masters spot in Malaysia
THAILAND’S Thongchai Jaidee is aiming to put on a masterful performance at the Maybank Malaysian Open as a victory will boost his chances of qualifying for next month’s Masters at Augusta.
Thongchai, who holds an unprecedented three Asian Tour Order of Merit titles, is currently ranked 59th on the World Golf Rankings and he needs to break inside the top-50 by early April to qualify for the year’s first Major.
The 13-time winner on the Asian Tour is looking forward to play in Malaysia which has been a happy hunting ground for the Thai who won back-to-back Malaysian Open titles in 2004 and 2005.
He was also runner-up in 2006 when the event was staged at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club, which is this week’s venue.
“It is a very important week. I need to win the tournament to give myself a chance to qualify for the Masters. It will be very important for me to play well,” said Thongchai, ahead of the US$2.75mil event sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour.
“I like coming to Malaysia. I know the course quite well. The temperature is like Thailand but the humidity in Malaysia is a bit hotter than Thailand.”
Thongchai, who won his first title on European soil in Wales last year, is confident of translating his early season solid performances into a 14th Asian Tour victory. He carded three top-10 results in the Middle East earlier this year and has yet to miss the halfway cut.
“My game is a little better but putting is very important. I hit the ball everywhere last week (at the Avantha Masters) because I put too much pressure on myself. I need to work a little bit on my swing and I think I’ll be okay,” said the former paratrooper, who finished tied 43rd in India last week.
He uncharacteristically missed the halfway cut at the Maybank Malaysian Open last season but is determined to not repeat the same mistake at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club.
“I know what I did wrong. I’ll plan better this year. You tend to lose your rhythm in Malaysia because of the rain suspensions so I want to handle myself better. I know the weather in Malaysia is very unpredictable but I’ll try my best to win anyway,” he said.
Former world number one Luke Donald of England, Thomas Aiken of South Africa, winner of the Avantha Masters on Sunday and Major winners Padraig Harrington of Ireland and Charl Schwartzel of South Africa are some of the players who will headline the Malaysian Open which starts tomorrow.