Thongchai Jaidee returns to the scene of his fifth European Tour title at the ISPS Handa Wales Open this week and europeantour.com got the low down on the Twenty Ten Course from the Thai golfer ahead of his title defence at The Celtic Manor Resort.
A little over 12 months ago Jaidee braved strong winds and inclement weather during all four rounds to edge out Thomas Björn in a high scoring affair in Wales, with the winning score coming at a testing six under par after 72 holes.
Having just come in from his first practice round of the week, the Thai golfer was clearly excited ahead of a maiden title defence on European soil, and he believes the course should pose a stern, but fair, test for the entire field from Thursday.
“The course set up is fantastic this year, the greens are even better than 12 months ago, they are just so pure,” explained Jaidee. “The fairway set up is also fantastic, but the bunkers will be a test as there is quite a bit of sand in them, and they could be difficult to play from, especially in the fairways.
“But otherwise the course is perfect, and if we get better weather than last year, which it looks like we might, then we should have a great week.”
In 2012 one of the keys to Jaidee’s victory was his accuracy into the greens, a statistical category that he ranked seventh in for the week, hitting 73.6 per cent of his Greens in Regulation at The Celtic Manor Resort. Once on the putting surface the Thai golfer also excelled with the short stick, ranking second in Putts per GIR with 1.655 en route to the title.
Jaidee believes these traits will once again be key ahead of another four rounds on the Twenty Ten Course, and he has been working hard of late to make sure he is in similar form once again in 2013.
“I’ve been working on my putting, and it has improved a lot, which should give me a chance of getting close again this week,” said Jaidee. “I think this year the rough and the setup is very fair. Last year the rough was quite thick in places, but it is very good this year, and the course as a whole looks fantastic. No complaints from me, it is a very good course to play.”
“The greens are very tricky, you can’t make any mistakes, and you must control the ball from the fairway. The greens are very tough to hit, and if you miss on the wrong side, even if only by a foot or two, then it will be very tough to get up and down.”
As was evident last year, the weather can often play a part on the exposed Celtic Manor Resort layout, but it looks set fair this week with Welsh sun forecast throughout, and Jaidee feels that this will also play its part. He has won back to back titles on The European Tour before, at the Carlsberg Malaysian Open from 2004, and he feels confident of repeating that feat this week in the fine weather, on a course he really enjoys.
He said: “If the weather is as sunny as it has been so far, then the scoring should be lower than last year. I enjoy playing here, and coming back gives me confidence ahead of this week as I really love the course.”