Philosophical Thai Jaidee isn’t getting excited

He may have shot a 69 to jump into joint second at the Dubai

World Championship in playing his best golf for a long time, but

ex-soldier Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand is refusing to get

excited.

”If I don’t succeed, I’ll come back next year,” the

41-year-old Jaidee said after finishing the third round of the

season-ending tournament alongside England’s Ross Fisher and

Italy’s Francesco Molinari.

They are two shots behind leader Ian Poulter before Sunday’s

final round for the winner’s purse of $1.25 million.

Such winnings would be the biggest earnings for Thongchai, who

only turned pro at the age of 30 after almost 10 years in the Royal

Thai army as a Ranger, making regular parachute jumps and honing

his golf skills on military golf courses.

He learned golf as a young caddy on his home town’s military

course at Jompol Por, 150 kilometers (90 miles) northeast of

Bangkok. His first club was a three-iron head stuck on a bamboo

stick.

Was he excited about coming back on Sunday?

”Not especially,” was the reply.

Thongchai’s presence near the top of the leaderboard is no

fluke. He’s been gradually climbing the world rankings over the

past two or three years, winning four European Tour events in

Asia.

Earlier this year, at the Desert Classic also held in Dubai,

Thongchai secured third place but his form dipped alarmingly after

that.

”This week I’ve hit form again. It’s the putting, sometimes you

get a feeling about your putting,” he said. ”This is the best

I’ve played for months.”

Thongchai outplayed partner Martin Kaymer on Saturday, even

though the German is competing with Lee Westwood for the title of

top golfer in the world.

Unlike the garrulous European players, Thongchai’s style is

unobtrusive and he passes almost unnoticed through the tournament.

While crowds of journalists surrounded Kaymer, Molinari and Poulter

after their rounds, the Thai player slipped quietly away from the

golf course to get some more practice shots in.

Thongchai shot four birdies and a single bogey in Saturday’s

round, while his high-profile partner Kaymer lost his consistency,

eventually dropping into the water at the 18th and bogeying.

The closest Thongchai would come to acknowledging he was on the

verge of a famous victory was when he admitted the last round would

be interesting.

”I’m looking forward to tomorrow,” he said. ”I’m more

confident this week than I have been for a while.”