THAILAND’S Thongchai Jaidee hailed the best moment of his career after he defied the weather to win his fifth European Tour event last night.
The 42-year-old showed that life really does begin at 40 to win out an exceptionally close ISPS Handa Wales Open as he became the 13th different winner in the 13th Wales Open.
The tournament will, however, arguably be best remembered for the failure of a single Welshman to make the cut in their home Open for the first time.
Many of the Newport crowd spent most of the afternoon singing in the rain, but by the end of a thrilling afternoon’s golf it was time for the Thong Song with Jaidee celebrating a first victory since the 2009 Ballantine Championship.
Jaidee has appeared in seven Wales Opens but hasn’t even had a top-ten finish yet this season and would’ve been long odds to triumph yesterday once it became evident that the wind and torrential rain were going to become a huge factor.
Jaidee dropped shots on four and then found the water on nine and had to settle for a double-bogey seven, which appeared to put paid to his chances of capturing the crown in front of a sparse Newport crowd.
With Dane Thomas Bjorn looking in menacingly good form and with Ross Fisher avoiding any major front nine slip-ups, the tournament appeared to be getting away from Jaidee until he went on a birdie blitz, securing three in a row at 10, 11 and 12.
Mistakes from Joost Luiten on 12 and 16 damaged his chances, and when Bjorn ran out of holes having failed to birdie the par five last, Jaidee needed only to hold his nerve, which he did with aplomb, his case helped even more when playing partner Fisher was penalised by one stroke for slow play, a situation that also cost him £6,000.
Jaidee had room to manoeuvre heading up the last and had the luxury of winning the tournament by a single stroke with a bogey six.
A delighted Jaidee told the Argus that this is the crowning moment of his career.
“It’s a special week, a special win for me because of the conditions,” he said.
“In my country... I never have weather like this! Sometimes it’s windy; sometimes it rains, but here at this one, wind, rain and cold all together!
“I think considering the conditions it is the best moment of my career.
“It was a special week... I really enjoyed it and also keep trying to play my best.”
Jaidee confessed that he felt Lady Luck was on his side.
“My form has not been good,” he said. “I think you need some luck to win and this one, I think I had it.... I prefer luck; luck is a gift!”