Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand got off to a perfect start to the week at the Omega European Masters when he aced the 16th hole in the practice round before the Swiss showpiece gets underway on Thursday.
Thongchai, the only player to win three Asian Tour Order of Merit crowns, aced the par three 230-yard 16th hole with a four iron on Tuesday and hopes to maintain the momentum at the Crans-sur-Sierre Golf Club.
“My ball landed on the green and it rolled for about 10 yards. I didn’t see the ball go in but my caddy said it went in. I know it is only a practice round but it is always nice to have a hole-in-one. Would have been better to get it during the tournament but this gives me some confidence,” said Thongchai.
He will challenge for the title against an elite field which includes defending champion Danny Willett of England, Lee Westwood, Miguel Angel Jimenez of Spain and Scott Hend of Australia at the €2.7 million (approximately US$3 million) event sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour.
The 46-year-old Thongchai is enjoying a good run of form after winning the 100th Open de France in July and finishing in tied 15th place at the Olympics. With two top-10 results at the Crans course including a fifth place finish in 2009, Thongchai is hoping to end the week on a high.
“I haven’t played well this year before my win in France. That was a good confidence booster. I’ve been working a lot on my putting. I like the golf course here because it isn’t very long and you need to place your ball in the right position.
“You have to putt very well here. If you hit everything perfect, you won’t face any problems but the greens are tricky. The golf course is in great condition and I think everyone will enjoy playing here,” said Thongchai.
After representing his country in the Olympics, Siddikur Rahman of Bangladesh is eyeing for a strong showing at the Omega European Masters, an event which he says is one of his favourite destinations.
“I played really good golf in the Olympics but the numbers didn’t show. I had good practice there and back home last week. I’m really happy with how I’m playing now so I’m looking forward to the week,” said Siddikur.
“I’ve gained some distance and I have my accuracy so I think it will be easier for me to play here,” added the Bangladeshi, who is a two-time Asian Tour winner.
Malaysia’s Nicholas Fung is excited to make his debut at the Omega European Masters. The 26-year-old is still chasing for a first Asian Tour victory and hopes his moment of glory will come in Crans.
“I want to try and win one Asian Tour event this year. I’ve been close but I still need to work harder to win. That’s my target. I led by two shots in Taipei earlier this year but I lost in the event. I was tensed and that was the problem,” he said.
“But it is normal to feel pressure especially when you are chasing for a first win. It was the same problem for (Jeunghun) Wang but look at him now? I look to him for inspiration,” added Fung.