Jaidee holds slender halfway lead

5/19/2013 12:38:00 PM
Thongchai Jaidee   (Getty Images)
Thongchai Jaidee (Getty Images)
Thongchai Jaidee turned one up on Graeme McDowell in the Volvo World Match Play final at a sun-drenched Thracian Cliffs Golf & Beach Resort in Bulgaria.

In perfect conditions, the 43 year old Thai won the second against Northern Ireland’s top seed McDowell and kept that advantage intact for the remainder of the front nine.

Jaidee drove into bunker at the first, but McDowell failed to convert a 12 footer for the hole and the former paratrooper sunk a putt from ten feet to get up-and-down and save par.

The five-time European Tour winner, having seen off Thomas Aiken in the morning’s semi-finals, then holed a 25 footer at the next to go one up with a birdie, and it remained that way as the third was halved in par.

Former US Open Champion McDowell had beaten Branden Grace in his semi-final and was looking to go one better than last year, when he was beaten by Nicolas Colsaerts in the final.

Jaidee doubled his advantage at the long fourth when McDowell missed a ten foot birdie putt and the World Number 63 converted from five feet.

McDowell’s second to the par five fifth went into an unplayable patch of rough and the World Number Eight did well to salvage par from 12 feet, which proved enough for a half as Jaidee missed his birdie effort from six feet.

A hole finally went McDowell’s way when he birdied the short seventh from six feet, and the next two were halved with pars.

Both players headed for home with consecutive pars, but only McDowell was able to birdie the long 12th and so the contest went into the closing stretch all square again.

McDowell won the 14th with a par after Jaidee drove into a bush and had to play out sideways, and as a result led the final for the first time.