Jaidee takes aim of Tiger crown

Thongchai Jaidee

KUALA LUMPUR: Evergreen Thai star Thongchai Jaidee believes his best years are still ahead of him as he takes aim at the inaugural US$3 million Maybank Championship Malaysia which starts on Thursday.

The 46-year-old Thongchai, ranked 33rd in the world, has made it clear he intends to hoist this week’s trophy despite the presence of 10 other world’s top-60 stars, including Danny Willett and Louis Oosthuizen, assembled at the Royal Selangor Golf Club.

Former Asian Tour Order of Merit champions David Lipsky of the United States, Thaworn Wiratchant of Thailand and Jeev Milkha Singh of India will also feature in the newest event sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour.

Thongchai, the only player to win three Asian Tour Order of Merit crowns, said he is still focussed on winning golf tournaments and qualifying for the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro later this year.

“I don’t worry about my age. My age is not that important. I always look ahead and I always try to win as many tournaments as I can. I like golf. My life is golf. Without golf, my life is nothing. If I lose or win, it doesn’t matter because I always enjoy playing golf,” said Thongchai.

“It is my dream to play in the Olympics. I think this is a good time for me to play. If I can play in the Olympics it will be very good for my career and for my country,” he added.

After shooting eight birdies in the pro-am at Royal Selangor today, Thongchai is confident he can shoot low numbers when the tournament starts.

“I’m very excited to see the golf course. It is in fantastic shape. It is an old golf course with a lot of big trees and you have to keep the ball in play. It is nice to be playing in a new event. There are a lot of strong players this week and it feels nice to be here,” he said.

Despite being plagued by flight problems – of both the ball-striking and aeronautical type – Louis Oosthuizen is hopeful of continuing his love affair with Kuala Lumpur.

Flight delays in both New York and Dubai meant the journey from his home in Florida to the Malaysian capital took in excess of 36 hours, forcing his withdrawal from the Tuesday’s pro-am tournament.

The delay gave the 2012 Malaysian Open champion plenty of time to ponder – and perhaps even practice – his famed swing, having struggled to find the right trajectory on his two recent European Tour outings in Dubai and Qatar.

“I’m struggling to stay awake to be honest with you! I left my house at 4.50am on Sunday morning, but only arrived here at 9am this morning because I was delayed in New York and then again in Dubai. It’s just one of those things, with the amount of travelling we do it’s bound to happen at some time. Plus I’ve got a day to rest up and get some sleep, so hopefully by tomorrow I should be fine and ready to go.

“And hopefully it’s a good omen after what happened four years ago when we couldn’t get out of Augusta on the Sunday night because the play-off [with Bubba Watson] finished late, and I didn’t end up arriving here until the Wednesday of the tournament. So at least this time I’ve given myself an extra 24 hours to prepare this time!” noted Oosthuizen.