Putting masterclass puts Jaidee three clear in windy Durban

Thu Jan 10, 2013 11:19am EST
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By Michael Todt

DURBAN (Reuters) - Thailand's Thongchai Jaidee wielded a hot putter as he fired a seven-under-par 65 in blustery conditions to seize a three-stroke lead after the first round of the Volvo Golf Champions on Thursday.

British Open champion Ernie Els of South Africa and compatriot Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 British Open winner, carded 68s to lie joint second while Briton Paul Lawrie was among seven players on three-under.

Former paratrooper Thongchai, ranked 80 and who qualified courtesy of his Wales Open triumph last June, made light of the strong winds and posted five birdies in his outward nine holes for a score of 31.

Further birdies at the 10th and 15th holes followed and he cancelled out his only bogey of the day at the 17th with a fine up-and-down from the sand at the 18th for birdie.

"I made long putts from everywhere. I had 24 or 25 putts today, and I haven't putted this well in a long time," Thongchai told a news conference.

"It's very, very exciting to come here because I've never been to South Africa before. I'm very happy to finish seven-under in the first round of 2013," he added.

Gusting winds and steady rain affected play for much of the afternoon, but the 43-year-old remained unaffected and called on the experience he gained from his victory in similar conditions in Wales last year.

"We have no choice. Everyone has to play in this, and I enjoy it," said the five-times European Tour winner.   Continued...

Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand watches his shot from the 16th tee during the second round of the DP World Tour Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai November 23, 2012. REUTERS/Nikhil Monteiro