Jaidee’s got game, and showing it in Arizona

MARANA, Ariz. – Standing to the side of the 18th green here at Dove Mountain, Thongchai Jaidee was explaining why at the age of 40 he was thrilled to get chances to play golf in America.

“The weather is better than Europe,” said the man from Thailand.

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Thongchai Jaidee advanced to the quarterfinals at Match Play, despite being seeded No. 48.

At which point, a reporter reminded Jaidee that it was barely 50 degrees, it was raining, it was windy, and it was . . . well, very cold and very Europe-like.

Jaidee tossed back his head and laughed, a good sign that he had a firm perspective on his ouster from the Accenture Match Play Championship. The lowest seed to make the quarterfinals, No. 48 Jaidee lost to Englishman Ian Poulter, 1 up, when his 16-foot birdie try hung on the lip at the 18th hole.

Only a short time earlier, Stewart Cink’s 5-and-4 loss to Paul Casey guaranteed that for the first time in the 12-year history of the Accenture, the semifinals will not include an American.

Instead, Spain’s Sergio Garcia will take on Poulter in one afternoon semifinal, while in the other, Camilo Villegas of Colombia draws Casey, another Englishman.

Ah, but while on the subject of international flavor, let’s return to Jaidee, who two weeks ago came close to winning the Dubai Desert Classic. He has risen to No. 50 in the world and while he was making his debut in the Accenture, it is his 12th World Golf Championship, eight of which have been in America.

In other words, he’s getting a bit more comfortable, which he hopes to take into Doral in three weeks for the CA Championship.

Certainly, he leaves Dove Mountain having shown plenty of game. In his first three matches, Jaidee played a total of 43 holes and not only never trailed, he was never even all square. In fact, the first time he was tied was when he and Poulter made matching pars at No. 1.

The first time Jaidee ever trailed was at the 17th hole – his 60th hole of the tournament. From 185, “I tried to hit something low (into a brisk, cold wind),” Jaidee said. “But I hit it so bad.”

Wide right and short of the green, Jaidee made bogey to fall 1 down. He stormed back at 18 to have a 16-foot birdie try, but when that hung on the lip and Poulter nailed a 7-foot putt to save par, the match was over and Jaidee was thinking about that long trip home.

“I needed some luck,” he said. “Some day, maybe. Today, not my day.”

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