2004: Jaidee comes up aces in Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Thongchai Jaidee made history by becoming the first player from Thailand to win a PGA European Tour event, and he also authored one of the most pivotal holes-in-one ever.

Standing on the 16th tee, tied for the lead in the Malaysian Open Feb. 22, Jaidee hit a perfect 6-iron from 188 yards that pitched short of the flag and rolled in, giving him the lead. He went on to birdie No. 18 to shoot 30 on the back nine, close with 68 to finish 14 under par and win by two strokes over Australian Brad Kennedy.

“A hole-in-one, then a birdie on the 18th,” Jaidee said. “I am very, very happy.” Kennedy had six birdies in the first 14 holes Sunday and needed a birdie on No. 18 to force a playoff. But he forfeited that chance when he pushed his second shot into the trees. Kennedy also was the runner-up in 2003.

“I gave it my best and I gave myself an opportunity, but I came up a little short,” Kennedy said.

It was Jaidee’s second victory in two weeks, following his triumph in the Myanmar Open on the Asian Tour Feb. 15. He also won the Volvo Masters of Asia at the end of last year, and has now won three times in his last six starts. The triumph at Saujana Golf & Country Club Sunday earned him a two-year exemption on the PGA European Tour.

Jaidee, a former paratrooper, will have to adjust to a new locale after winning the Malaysian Open.

“It’s been my dream to play on the European Tour and now I will have to get used to life in Europe,” said Jaidee. “I’m looking forward to taking the opportunity to play alongside some of the best players in the world.”

Heavy rain Friday and Saturday forced the two final rounds to be played Sunday.

Chawalit Plaphol and Prayad Marksaeng shared third with Frenchman Thomas Levet at 10 under, followed by England’s Andrew Marshall and Spain’s Miguel Angel Jimenez at 8 under.

Thongchai set up the victory with an 8-under 64 in the third round earlier Sunday.

South Korea’s Sung-man Lee, who started the final round with a one-stroke lead, dropped out of contention with a 77 and finished at 281.

Colin Montgomerie of Scotland finished at 283 and Padraig Harrington of Ireland ended up at 286.

– Staff and wire reports

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