x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Thongchai hopes to firm up top 10 spot on European Tour

Thai star playing some of the best golf of his career in European Tour home stretch

Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand hopes to continue his recent run of success on the European Tour during this week's HSBC Champions in Shanghai. Andrew Redington / Getty Images
Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand hopes to continue his recent run of success on the European Tour during this week's HSBC Champions in Shanghai. Andrew Redington / Getty Images

SHANGHAI // Thai Thongchai Jaidee said on Tuesday that it would be one of his proudest moments if he could finish a fine year inside the European Tour’s top 10.

He heads into this week’s US$8.5 million (Dh31.2m) World Golf Championship-HSBC Champions in Shanghai playing the most consistent golf of his long career after sharing second place in the BMW Masters on Sunday.

The man from Lop Buri, who turns 44 next week, passed €1 million (Dh5.06m) in earnings for the third time in a European Tour season by finishing a shot behind winner Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano last Sunday.

More significantly, it catapulted him to sixth place from 21st in the Race to Dubai standings with three events left in the season. The five-time European Tour winner is on course for his best year, despite not winning in 2013.

Now his goal is to stay in the top 10 and grab a share of the $3.75m bonus pool on offer at the end of the season, which culminates with the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai at Jumeirah Golf Estates next month.

“I’m now a lot happier with my swing,” he said. “Finishing runner-up last week helped me jump into the top 10 which is great.

“I think if I can stay in there by the end of Dubai, it would definitely be one of my proudest moments in my life.”

Thongchai won twice in 2009 to secure his previous best finish of 19th, in the inaugural Race to Dubai.

But 2013 has brought seven top-10 finishes, with the highlight being a spot in the finals of the Volvo World Match Play Championship back in May, where he lost to Graeme McDowell.

“My performance last week was very good and I’m feeling happy with my game at the moment, especially from tee to green,” Thongchai said.

“I have been doing a lot of work with my coach and I think we saw a lot of improvements last week.”

Despite his solid year, Thongchai was overlooked by captain Nick Price for the Internationals Team at the Presidents Cup last month. But he bounced back from that disappointment, carding a six-under 66 in the final round of the BMW Masters.

The WGC-HSBC Champions, beginning tomorrow in Shanghai, features a star-studded field of 78.

The starting line-up includes major winners Justin Rose, Phil Mickelson and Jason Dufner, who are joined by Race to Dubai leader and world No 4 Henrik Stenson.

Rory McIlroy, defending champion Ian Poulter, Ernie Els and youngsters Jordan Spieth of the US and Italy’s Matteo Mannasero also are entered.

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