Hoylake, England, July 19: Thai star Thongchai Jaidee overcame a disastrous start to post a third successive even par 72 at The Open Championship on Saturday.
The triple Asian Tour number one endured the worst of the morning weather at Royal Liverpool to drop a bogey and double bogey in his opening two holes and was three over through the seventh.
But the 44-year-old, who is ranked 34th in the world, showed his quality by sinking four birdies over his last 11 holes for a three-day total of 216.
“At nine (in the morning), there was so much rain,” said Thongchai after his round. “I hit it good, found the fairway on the first and second holes but then missed it on the wrong side of the greens with the approach shots.
“Found the greenside bunker on the first and with the pin being so tight, I had no chance and made a good bogey. On two, my first putt couldn’t get up to the green and made a six there.”
A chip-in birdie on eight sparked a revival as he went on to birdie 10, 11 and 18 to get back to even par for the year’s third Major.
“After the chip-in on the eight, the game changed a bit. It was solid after the turn. There was no wind and the greens were softer. You could hole a lot of putts. Even par is okay after the start that I had,” said Thongchai, who won in Sweden last month.
The Thai could not recall the last time he shot three consecutive 72s but is hoping to move into red numbers in the final day. Thongchai, whose best Open outing was tied 13th in 2009, said he needed to improve on his scoring at the par fives where he is only one-under of them this week.
“I can’t remember when I have had three 72s. I think I was much younger … it was probably during my amateur days. I think I’ve learned a lot in my golf to be able to come back. When I was young, I maybe wasn’t able to concentrate to come back,” he said.
“You can’t expect to be under par tomorrow. It depends on your game that day and how you feel. I think the back nine has more birdie chances, with the three par fives being reachable. You can make a score on those holes. This week, I’ve not played well on them. Not too many birdies there.”
Thongchai was caught by surprise by the R&A’s decision to break tradition and play the third round off the first and 10th tees, the first time in Open history due to thunderstorms that were being forecasted on Saturday.
“We got the tee time late last night. I saw it on the internet at about 10.30pm. Luckily, someone called me to say that I was the second group off,” he said.
Source: Asian Tour