Thongchai ready to fight for international team at Presidents Cup

Thongchai ready to fight for international team at Presidents CupIncheon, Korea: Thongchai Jaidee was walking with an extra spring in his step at the Presidents Cup on Monday.

There’re so many reasons why.

The 45-year-old Thai star is fresh off a third victory on European soil, he’s back in the country which launched his golf career and more importantly, he’ll hit a new milestone by making his debut for the International Team against the United States in the biennial team contest.

“This old man can still win in Europe,” joked Thongchai at the practice range at the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club, venue of the Presidents Cup. “I’ve worked hard with my coach (Peter Wolfenstetter) and I’m feeling comfortable with my game.”

The three-time Asian Tour number one is the oldest player in this edition of the Presidents Cup which starts on Thursday. Ironically, the International Team’s average age is the youngest ever at 30.4 years since the event began in 1994.

“I’m thrilled and excited with the opportunity. I’ve played in almost every major golf event and the Presidents Cup is one of the last in my to-do list,” said Thongchai.
While he will be amongst the five rookies in Captain Nick Price’s International side, Thongchai is ready to play the big brother role this week.

His match play record is also decent where he was a quarter-finalist at the WGC-Cadillac Match Play in 2010 and runner-up at the World Match Play in 2013. He also captained Asia to a memorable 10-10 draw with Europe at the inaugural EurAsia Cup last year where he beat Graeme McDowell in the singles.

“I can mentor the younger players. My experience can help in planning our strategies,” said Thongchai. “Matchplay is the format I like the most. In strokeplay, you play against the golf course but matchplay is head-to-head with another player. I like the mentality of it.

“Anything can happen in matchplay. It’ll be many players’ first time in the Presidents Cup so all of us will give nothing less than 100%. That’s the mentality I will encourage the team,” added the former paratrooper.

Over the past decade and a half, Thongchai has carried the Asian challenge proudly on the international stage. He looked back with fondness of his maiden Asian Tour victory at the 2000 Korean Open. He has since won 12 other times across the region.

“My first win was like a jump-start in my career. It gave me so much confidence that I can do well in the region,” he said.

Thongchai has shown no signs of slowing down with age and his win in Germany two weeks ago has since pushed him up to a career high 31st place on the Official World Golf Ranking.

The well-travelled Thai ace credits a strict fitness and diet regime for allowing him to stay on top of his game at a time when young guns such as Jordan Spieth, Jason Day and Rory McIlroy are dominating the sport.

“I stay fit and eat healthily. I always find myself outside of golf to relax too and that gives me comfort and less pressure,” he said.