November 18, 2006 – Thongchai Jaidee has rediscovered his magic with the putter after going back to his old technique. The Thai ace had a memorable day on the greens in the third round of the UBS Hong Kong Open on Saturday to move into contention for the title.
Thongchai carded a three-under-par 67 at the Hong Kong Golf Club in Fanling for a total of nine-under 201, five shots behind leader José Manuel Lara of Spain.
“My game is getting better, especially my putting,” he said. “I was struggling with my putting for the past six months. I tried using a new technique but it didn’t work so I went back to my old style around two to three months ago.”
On Saturday, Thongchai reached the turn in level par for the day and then endured a rollercoaster back nine that included three birdies, two bogeys and an eagle on the par-five 13th.
“I started well – my putting was good and my iron play was steady,” he said. “On the 13th, I struck a perfect drive off the tee and used a three iron for my second shot. Then I made a good putt from around 12 to 13 feet.”
That contrasted to his adventures on the par-four 18th when his second shot went left into the rough and his third was over-hit into the bunker at the back of the green. From there he made a great up-and-down to escape with a bogey.
Thongchai, winner of two European Tour events and a two-time Asian No.1, could make a run at the Asian Tour’s UBS Order of Merit title with a good result at Fanling.
He currently lies in eighth place with season earnings of US$237,402. That puts him almost US$233,000 behind pace-setting Jeev Milkha Singh but, with the winner’s cheque at the UBS Hong Kong Open worth US$333,330, he could leap up the standings.
“We have this tournament and then the [season-ending] Volvo Masters of Asia, so I’ll try my best,” he said.
“I just want to concentrate on my game. I’ll have a good sleep tonight and have a bit more energy for the final round. I feel good about my game and my putting has improved. Now I have a slight problem with my irons, but my short game is fine.”