Asian golf continues to rise after Thongchai Jaidee cruised to a four-shot victory at the 100th Open de France, a result which will give him an impetus at The Open next week.
The Thai legend, the only player to hold an unprecedented three Asian Tour Order of Merit crowns, defeated an elite field at the Le Golf National including world number four Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland.
Thongchai’s victory also marks the first time that the European Tour has had seven Asian wins in the same season, with the 46-year-old also becoming the oldest winner in Open de France history, beating 2010 champion Miguel Angel Jiménez by 58 days.
S.S.P. Chawrasia of India started the ball rolling when he won the Hero Indian Open, an event sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour, in March before Soomin Lee of Korea and Li Haotong of China secured emphatic victories in China.
Korea’s rising star Jeunghun Wang, ranked second on the Order of Merit, became the youngest ever player to win back-to-back victories in Europe in May when he won in Morocco and at the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open, a tournament tri-sanctioned between the Asian Tour, Sunshine Tour and European Tour.
In June, Wu Ashun, a member of Team Asia in the EurAsia Cup presented by DRB-HICOM, became the first Chinese golfer to win multiple victories on the European Tour when he won the Lyoness Open in Austria.
Thongchai continued the amazing run by Asian golfers in the last five months after enjoying a ‘perfect’ week in Paris as the battle hardened veteran credited his success to hard work and a strong mental fortitude.
“It was a special week. Sometimes you need one perfect week. Every week, you can’t do well but it was my perfect week because I didn’t miss many shots. Anything I miss, I make a good recovery shot and make par,” said Thongchai.
“I start to work hard and also do a lot of sports psychology, that’s the most important in my mind. I worked in the army for 14 years. I trained in the army camp about two years as an air bomb paratrooper, that’s why I have to be strong.
“When I play golf, I think it is really easy. Because training with the army, I had to wake up at 5.00 in the morning, run about two hours every morning and in the evening for two years!” Thongchai explained.
Asian Tour commissioner Kyi Hla Han hailed the success of Asian golfers on the international stage and was delighted with Thongchai’s fourth victory on European soil.
“Thongchai is a great ambassador for the Asian Tour and his success in Paris has made it a truly exciting time for us as China’s Li Haotong and Wu Ashun and Korea’s Jeunghun Wang and Soomin Lee together with S.S.P. Chawrasia have all won on the European Tour in last few months.
“Thongchai started his career on the Asian Tour and he has grown into a global star thanks to his success in Asia and abroad. He a great role model to the younger players and I wish him the best at The Open and in the Olympics in August,” said Han.