DUBAI // Inarguably the toughest man in the Dubai World Championships dwells near the north edge of the leader board while seeking a first highbrow title to adorn a life that is already remarkable.
Thongchai Jaidee, whose 11 years as a paratrooper in the Thai army make him that rare world-class golfer with some 60 leaps from airplane bellies, fought through an up-and-down yesterday with an array of up-and-downs.
With a 69 to follow on an opening 68 and a 69 from Friday, he joined a three-way logjam in second place at 10-under-par, two shots behind Ian Poulter.
"We missed a lot of greens today," said the 41-year-old pro, his career already flush with four European Tour titles, a distinction as the first Thai to play in all four major tournaments and a heady February of 2010.
Back nine months ago, Jaidee finished third in the Dubai Desert Classic at Emirates Golf Club, then thrived in the WGC World Match Play event in Arizona, besting Ross Fisher, Robert Karlsson and Ryo Ishikawa before bowing to Poulter in the quarter-finals.
From there, he left that promising verge and the No 42 ranking it brought and has landed at No 85, owing in part to a problem long known to unnerve humankind.
"I've had a problem with my putting for a long time," he said, "for about three or four months."
And while putting woes can make three months drag, Jaidee's coach doubling this week as his caddie, Peter Wolfenstetter, called it "a really good three days" while adding, "We will see."
Jaidee rated his form of last February as superior to that of yesterday, even as he bested playing partner and apparent Race to Dubai winner Martin Kaymer, who shot 73 to slide from hot contention. As to whether this might be the Sunday he soars to trump prior wins in Malaysia (twice), Indonesia and South Korea, the man who used to leap from 12,000 feet said: "Golf, you know, you never know."
And: "If not, no problem."