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Asian Tour star Thongchai Jaidee proved he is back to top form after notching his first victory on European soil on Sunday following a lean spell. The Thai record-breaker, who holds an unprecedented three Order of Merit titles and 13 career victories in Asia, weaved his old magic to win the ISPS Handa Wales Open in style as he ended a 17-month title drought.
Thongchai defeated a stellar field at the Celtic Manor Resort to join Chinese Taipei's Lu Liang-huan, Korea's K.J. Choi and India's Jeev Milkha Singh as the players to win European Tour events on European soil.
"This is a special week because of the conditions and it was so tough. You know, I really enjoyed it and I kept trying my best to win," said the 42-year-old.
"I played so well for almost two years after 2008 and following that, I struggled with my back injury. I'm trying to get my form back. I hit the ball so bad a couple months ago but I got new irons this week."
Asian Tour Executive Chairman Kyi Hla Han hailed Thongchai's feat which will no doubt add to his greatness in Asia.
"It's wonderful to see Thongchai come back from injuries and win on European soil for the first time. He has proven time and time again that he can win under testing conditions which are different to Asia. I would like to congratulate him for his win and I hope this will inspire our members," said Han.
Thongchai, whose last triumph was the 2010 Johnnie Walker Cambodian Open, produced a gutsy back nine performance to earn his landmark victory. He turned in 39 but fought back with three straight birdies at the turn.
As the pressure mounted, he said his training as a paratrooper helped him as the likes of Thomas Bjorn, Joost Luiten, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, Ross Fisher and Richard Sterne chased his lead.
"I think in golf, everyone gets nervous for sure. They don't tell you; they just keep quiet. You can see my face that I get nervous. I trained a lot in the army; they gave me a lot of pressure. Now come to play golf, quite easy for me," smiled Thongchai.
The Thai ace also moved up to 114th place from 199th for his Welsh success.
The victory will also set him up nicely in his goal to return to the world's top-50, an accomplishment he achieved in 2009 when he won the Indonesia Open and Ballantine's Championship in Korea, events sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour.
"First time I've won in Europe, it gives me a record. It will boost my ranking as well. I'm going to enjoy it. I was lucky," said Thongchai.
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