Thongchai to become first Thai in Masters

Thongchai Jaidee will play in the Masters, making him the first Thailand-born golfer to compete at this major in 35 years.

updated: February 25, 2007 11:39 IST
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Thongchai Jaidee received a special invitation on Monday to play in the Masters, making him the first Thailand-born golfer to compete at this major in 35 years. The cutoff for the criteria was the US PGA Tour money list and world ranking published after The Players Championship. Only two players were added who were not already eligible - Rory Sabbatini of South Africa and Arron Oberholser of the United States, both having won this year and finishing in the top 10 on the money list and top 50 in the rankings. The Masters often invites a foreign player not already eligible. Thongchai finished among the top three on the Asian Tour money list for five straight years and was the first Thai to win a European tour event. The 36-year-old Thongchai has won the Malaysian Open for the last two years. He will become the first Thai-born golfer at the Masters since Sukree Onsham in 1970-71. Left out of the Masters was Camilo Villegas, a U.S. tour rookie from Colombia who fell one birdie short at Sawgrass of getting into the top 10 on the money list; and JB Holmes, another tour rookie who won the FBR Open in February. Greg Owen of England failed to redeem himself from his three-putt from three feet on the 71st hole at the Bay Hill Invitational that cost him victory and a spot in the Masters. He needed to finish in the top 20 at The Players Championship to move into the top 50, but wound up in a tie for 22nd after closing with a 70. Owen was No. 52 in the world rankings published on Monday. The field does not include Americans Kenny Perry and Ryan Moore - both were eligible but will miss the tournament because of injuries. Tiger Woods is the defending champion when the Masters starts on April 6 on an Augusta National course now stretched to 7,445 yards (6,807 meters). (AP)