By Jordan Fuller
Thailand’s golfing profile is rising with several golfers joining the tour. Let’s look at some notable Thai-born golfers to either play on the tour or attend multiple PGA major championships.
Considered one of the most successful Thai golfers not to play a significant number of PGA events is Prayad Marksaeng. He has forty-eight professional wins on the Asian, Japan, European, Japan Senior Tour, and All Thailand Golf Tour.
Turning pro in 1991, from Hua Hin Thailand, Prayad captured his first victory in 1996 at the Volvo China Open. He was one of the first members to join. The Asian Tour from its formation in 1995 and was one of the first ten men to reach one million US dollars on tour with seven victories. He finished with a total of ten total Asian Tour victories which is third all time.
He played in his first PGA major championship in the 1999 Open Championship where he missed the cut. Prayad’s best finish was in the 2008 PGA Championship where he finished T15. Currently, he plays on the Senior Japan tour.
After turning pro in 2010 with is first Japan Golf Tour event in 2011 where he finished 65th. During his career on the Asian Tour, he won in February of 2017 at the Bashundhara Bangladesh Open.
In 2016 Jazz decided to step away from professional golf entirely to join the monkshood. He later credits his increase performance in the next few years to his decision to step away from golf. 2018 and 2019 were a great success where he continued adding wins with one in 2018 and two in 2019. With his win at the SMBC Singapore Open in 2019, an event sanctioned by both the Japan and Asian tour.
After this win gained a ranking of top 100 in the world and subsequently locked in a tee time at the 2019 Open Championship. His luck ran out in his first major event where he missed the cut. His best finish was in the 2019 PGA Championship where he finished T14. Look for more PGA tour appearances from this young golfer in the future.
From a region north of Bangkok, Thongchai Jaidee was born in Lopburi Thailand. Unlike many other golfers starting golf from a very young age, Jaidee started playing when he was sixteen and did not turn professional until he turned thirty-one.
His unconventional path to the PGA tour included becoming a paratrooper in the Royal Thai Army. He turned Pro in 2001 and had an incredible run from 2001 to 2004 earning several victories, attaining the record for most Asian Tour earnings and second in victories with thirteen total.
One of his greatest achievements occurred in 2004, becoming the first Thai player to win a European Tour event by winning the Carlsberg Malaysian Open. Over his career on the European and Asian tours, he has won eight and thirteen events for a total of twenty career wins. (The 2004 Carlsberg Malaysian Open was co-sanctioned by the European and Asian Tours).
Additionally, in 2001 he played in his first PGA major at the US Open and was again awarded a special invitation to the 2006 Master’s where he, unfortunately, missed the cut. He played in several PGA majors and other tournaments from 2001 through 2017 with his highest PGA major finish T13 at the 2009 Open Championship.
Born in Bangkok, Thailand, Kiadech joined the PGA tour in 2013 and has qualified for the tour in each year since. Prior to joining the PGA tour, Kiradech won his age group in the 2003 and 2004 Junior World Golf Championships.
His professional career started in 2008 when he joined the Asian Tour. During his first year on the 2009 Japan Golf Tour, he achieved his first victory winning at the Mercedes-Benz Tour’s Singha Pattaya open with an impressive eleven stroke victory.
After successes in the Asian and Japan Golf Tour, Kiradech found similar success in the European Tour open was in March of 23013 he won the Maybank Malaysian Open by defeating Edoardo Molinari by one stroke in weather shorted 54 hole tournament.
His second European tour victory was a playoff over Li Haotong by sinking a birdie putt on the first playoff hole. He and Thongchai Jaidee are the only Thai born players to record multiple European tour victories.
After his second European Tour victory and success in several other tournaments, Kiradech was eligible to play on the European tour and has since competed in several major events with a T15 finish at the Master’s and a 15th place finish in the 2018 U.S. Open. Kiradech is the only Thai player to gain full PGA eligibility.
Aside from golf, Kiradech loves dogs and he loves feeding them with the best food. He named them Putter and Champio which obviously came from golf.
Honorable Mention: Sukree Onsham
Although he did not have an illustrious career in the PGA he is attributed to becoming the first Thai golfer to play at the Masters Tournament. Unfortunately, he was cut from both tournaments in 1970 and 1971. He also represented Thailand in several World Cup appearances.
Jordan Fuller is a golf enthusiast who has been on the green for 25 years. He loves to share golf news and advice. A few years ago, he started his own website, GolfInfluence.com, where he shares his learnings about the sport and recommends the best golf clubs.