Photo - Asian Tour
THONGCHAI BECOMES ASIAN TOUR’S FIRST FOUR MILLION DOLLAR MAN
Sentosa, April 27: Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee reached another milestone in his glorious career when he became the first player to surpass US$4 million in career earnings on the Asian Tour following a top-10 finish at the Ballantine’s Championship in Korea.
The highly decorated Thai, who holds an unprecedented 12 Asian Tour titles, earned US$56,117 last weekend after finishing tied ninth to raise his career tally to a whopping US$4,005,888.
Indian duo Jeev Milkha Singh (US$2,835,765) and Jyoti Randhawa (US$2,674,874) are second and third respectively on the career earnings list, followed by another Thai star Thaworn Wiratchant who sits in fourth place on US$2,526,174.
Chinese stalwart Liang Wen-chong, Asia’s number one in 2007, is fifth with US$2,480,449 while Korea’s Noh Seung-yul, 18, is the youngest member in the top-30 with accumulated earnings of US$989,554 in just three years on the Asian Tour.
Currently ranked 44th in the world, Thongchai has made a name for himself with numerous accolades, none the more impressive than becoming the first man to win three Order of Merit crowns courtesy of two victories last year.
This season, he has remained in sparkling form with a third place finish in Dubai followed by a joint fifth finish in the Maybank Malaysian Open. He also advanced into the quarterfinals of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship before losing to eventual winner Ian Poulter of England.
“I hope that I can set an example to the new generation of players and one day see more of the Asian Tour players in the world’s top-50,” said the former paratrooper.
Thongchai turned professional at the age of 30 but his career took flight almost immediately after earning his Tour card through Qualifying School in 1999. Since then, the powerful Thai has not looked back and continues to blossom into an exceptional player.
“There are a lot of players coming up now and there is support for them through the Asian Tour. We have a chance to become big players. Everyone dreams about the PGA Tour but it’s not easy. If we continue to stage big tournaments in Asia, it will help golf to grow. When I started playing in 1999, the prize money was small but it’s so big now,” added Thongchai.
Asian Tour Executive Chairman Kyi Hla Han lauded Thongchai’s latest feat.
“Thongchai has become an exceptional player through his time on the Asian Tour. He has made full use of the playing platform that we have created and his success continues to inspire our players,” said Han.