Tee talk: Thai golfer Thongchai Jaidee (left) and Brit Simon Dyson talk to the media during a press conference for the CIMB Niaga Indonesian Masters 2013 at the Royale Jakarta Golf Club on Tuesday. The tournament, which features 150 golfers and US$750,000 in prizes, will take place from May 2 until May 5. (JP/R. Berto Wedhatama)
Asia’s top golfer, Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand, is approaching the CIMB Niaga Indonesian Masters 2013, which runs from Thursday to Sunday, with optimism.
“I have a good chance to win this tournament. I’m going to try and win it,” Jaidee told reporters on Tuesday during a media conference at the Royale Jakarta Golf Club, the tournament’s venue.
He went on to say that the key to his success thus far was his competitive nature.
“I always enter a tournament thinking I can win it,” said the recipient of three Order of Merit crowns and 13 career victories.
Thailand has produced some of the strongest golfers in the region.
At last year’s Indonesian Masters, Thaworn Wirachant finished second behind Lee Westwood of England. Thaworn is set to return to the Royale this year but Westwood is not on the list of some 150 participants, 20 of whom are Indonesian.
Thongchai said he looked forward to seeing how the young Thai golfers would perform at the competition as they all had shown promising improvements.
“They have been performing well at big events. You see them on the leaderboard almost every week. In the future, I hope to see more Thai players playing at major tournaments,” Thongchai said.
Thongchai and Thaworn are among some 20 Thai golfers taking part in the tournament.
Unlike Thongchai, Brit Simon Dyson said his confidence was a bit low after having been absent from tournaments much of last year.
“I took some time off because my wife gave birth to our first child. I had two really bad injuries as well so I missed all of the big tournaments,” said Dyson who topped the Asian Tour Order of Merit in 2000.
He confirmed that his game was getting better and that his confidence was improving.
Commenting on the weather in Jakarta, he said that it would not be a problem. “If you prepare right and drink plenty of fluids, you will be alright. The heat is not too bad,” he said.
Thongchai and Dyson will be joined by other major champions such as Ernie Els, John Daly, Darren Clark, Michael Campbell and Bernd Wiesberger, whom will all be vying for the US$750,000 prize.
Indonesia will be spearheaded by Andik Mauludin, 2011 SEA Games silver medalist George Gandranata and Ian Andrew.
Both George and Ian turned pro only last year.
George said he was anxious about the challenge as he was going up against the world’s top golfers. He was hopeful that the event would make a positive impact on the development of Indonesian golf.
“It means a lot to play at home. I’m thankful that these guys are here. They will help show Indonesia to the world. They will show that Indonesia is a golfing destination and that we have fantastic courses here. It will be good for the game and for everyone.
“By having tournaments like this, the game of golf will grow and there will be more professional events because sponsors will be willing to come and say ‘Hey, this is a good emerging market.’”
The event also marks the beginning of the Amateur League series at the Royale Jakarta Golf Club, which serves as a qualifying field for the Indonesian Masters.