THE PRESIDENTS CUP
The Presidents Cup Interview: "Thirteen with Thongchai"
March 27, 2015
By Kenneth Quillinan, Special to PGATOUR.COM
- March 27, 2015
- Thongchai Jaidee is in position to make his Presidents Cup debut in Korea later this year. (Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Thongchai Jaidee is regarded as one of Asia’s greatest ever players, having amassed six European Tour and 13 Asian Tour titles, where he also holds the record for the most career earnings. Last year, the 45-year-old Thai native was also awarded with the ‘Asian Tour Player of the Decade’ accolade. It is still hard to believe that Jaidee didn’t turn professional until he was 30 years old, after only being introduced to the game at the age of 16. Quite remarkably, his first golf club was a 3-iron head attached to a bamboo stick. Now, 15 years after he turned pro, he is in a great position to make his Presidents Cup debut in Korea later this year. (When this interview took place, he was seventh on the International Team table and ranked No. 42 in the Official World Golf Ranking). Here’s what he had to say during a recent interview:
Let’s start off with an easy question...You were 16 when you swung your first golf club and learned how to play on a Thai Army base. Did you fall in love with the game immediately?
I wouldn’t say immediately, but my love for the game grew very rapidly. My approach to playing golf is different from others. Most golfers have a lot of support from their family, but I had to play to live, so my passion and love for the game is possibly stronger than most.
What has been your most memorable shot?
All the winning putts I made are memorable, but most recently, I have to say my approach shot in the playoff of the Nordea Masters 2014, where I left myself with a short birdie putt to win.
Would you swap your six European Tour victories for one major championship title of your choice?
Ummm, that is a good question…maybe yes…
Do you have aspirations to be a future Presidents Cup captain after your EurAsia Cup captaincy role?
Definitely, yes. But before even thinking about that prestigious honor, I really hope to experience the tournament as a player first and foremost.
What is the main piece of advice you provide to younger pros?
It’s pretty simple to be honest, ‘’Work hard and love the game. Always love what you’re doing’.” This is a very important part of being successful.
Looking back at the Thai Classic last month, what are your overall feelings about it?
Honestly, I felt that I should have won it. The problem was my putting was way below standard throughout the week, plus some errors in the final round proved to be very costly.
Has Nick Price contacted you for a chat?
He hasn’t talked to me yet. Before the previous tournament in 2013, I did receive a text message from him explaining why I wasn’t picked.
Jumping out of a plane or the winning putt at a tournament? Which one provides the biggest adrenaline rush?
Ha, ha so you know I served in the Thai Army as a paratrooper? As of now I would have to say that sinking a winning putt provides me with more excitement.
Tell us more about the Thongchai Jaidee Foundation.
Due to my hardship throughout my childhood, I know how hard life in poverty is. There are lots of kids out there who lack any of the opportunities that we take for granted, so I set up the foundation to help the kids’ dreams come true. We provide them with accommodation and support, as well as golf lessons, equipment and pocket money.
Thailand is without doubt a top golfing destination in Asia, but can you explain to our readers why and make any recommendations please?
I think that’s a very true statement. I’ve recommended a lot of people to come play golf in Thailand, and they loved it. We have many great courses that can actually hold world-class tournaments. Black Mountain is definitely one prime example of this.
You are clearly in great shape. What is your daily routine and diet?
With regards to my diet, keeping the intake of sugar, carbs and fat under control is the key. I also run in the morning and lift some weights regularly.
What do you do to relax? Are you able to enjoy a casual game of golf and ignore the competitive streak that has been instilled in you during your career?
Yes, I do get time to play golf with friends and it’s usually a very relaxing game...I play many different courses between Bangkok and Lop Buri (which is my hometown) when I have the time to do so.
Finally, what do you think about players using SNS such as Twitter/Facebook to keep in touch with fans?
I think that it’s a good idea to maintain a close relationship with the fans. I have my Facebook fan page under the name ‘Thongchai Jaidee,’ which is updated occasionally to update and mingle with the fans. My Twitter account however has been inactive for quite a while, so keep in touch with me on Facebook if you like.