THAILAND’S Thongchai Jaidee won the ISPS Wales Open today after keeping his head when all those around him couldn’t.
The 42-year-old clinched his first European Tour title in three years with a one-stroke victory on the Twenty Ten course after firing a final round of 72.
Jaidee held off the challenge of a clutch of players in contention until the death with four players sharing second.
They included Great Dane Thomas Bjorn, who shot a 67 for the clubhouse lead to ratchet up the pressure on the front-runners.
It proved too great for some, Dutchman Tim Sluiter fading horrendously with a 77, ditto Marcel Siem, who shot 78.
Dutchman Joost Luiten missed a putt on 18 that would’ve forced a playoff, while Ryder Cup hopeful Gonzalo Fdez-Castano and former Wales Open winner Richard Sterne also finished five under par with a 67 and 68 respectively.
Ireland’s Paul McGinley, one of Colin Montgomerie’s assistants at the 2010 Ryder Cup, ended up joint sixth thanks to a 65, the lowest round of the day.
He was joined by Ross Fisher, who missed out on a share of second spot after receiving a one-stroke penalty for slow play en route to a 73.
Jaidee’s victory, his fifth on the European Tour, was all the more remarkable due to the ugly conditions yesterday, heavy rain and strong wind the polar opposite of the conditions he’s used to on the Asian Tour.
Jaidee was in all sorts of trouble when he found water on nine and scored a double bogey seven, putting him three over heading into the turn. However, three birdies in succession got him back on track and he held his lead despite bogeying 16 and 18.
A playoff had looked a very real prospect, but ultimately, though it was a Thai at the top, only one man was left standing.