Jaidee of Thailand wins Wales Open after Fisher penalized for slow play

Thongchai Jaidee at the ISPS Handa Wales Open
Getty Images
Thongchai Jaidee, a former trooper in the Thailand military, owned multiple victories in Asia before winning in Wales on Sunday.
By
PGA.com news services

Series: European Tour

NEWPORT, Wales -- Thailand's Thongchai Jaidee survived a poor start to win the ISPS Handa Wales Open by one stroke on Sunday, with a final round 1-over 72 in wet conditions.

The 42-year-old Jaidee, who was the leader through three rounds, holed four birdies on the back nine at Celtic Manor, after bogeying the fourth and double-bogeying the par-5 ninth, where he went out of bounds before finding a bunker.

Jaidee finished 6-under 278 for his fifth European Tour title but his first actually in Europe.

The Netherlands' Jooist Luiten (72) and Denmark's Thomas Bjorn (68) shared second place with Spain's Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (67) and South Africa's Richard Sterne (68) at 5-under 277.

Former Ryder Cup player Ross Fisher left Celtic Manor in an angry mood after being given a one-shot penalty and a $9,200 fine for slow play when he was only one off the lead.

"I don't think it's justice, but there you go," said Fisher, who after being told about the punishment with four holes to play fell away to a tie for sixth place.

What happened to Fisher -- back at the course where he helped Europe to victory in the 2010 Ryder Cup less than two years ago -- became Sunday's main talking point.

Although it is only 10 months since the European Tour last handed out a stroke penalty, it is thought to be decades since someone in the final group on the final day had action taken against him for slow play.

The most famous incident came in the 1981 BMW PGA Championship at Ganton when Nick Faldo, Greg Norman and Ken Brown were all fined -- winner Faldo and Norman the princely sum of $75 and Brown $230.

European Tour Chief Referee John Paramor was the man who stepped in after giving the final group of Fisher, Jaidee and Luiten a warning as early as the sixth hole that they needed to speed up.

Then came Fisher's second shot to the par-5 11th. As the second member of the group to play, he was allowed 40 seconds plus a few more because of the bad weather, but took 57 seconds.

"It was a clear bad time," said Paramor. "Then on the 14th green, he took 55 seconds over his first putt. I told him before he teed off at the 15th -- and I don't think he was particularly happy."

Fisher, now two behind, failed to birdie the driveable par 4, bogeyed the short 17th and finished with a 2-over-par 73.

He has history with the Tour. Back in the 2009 British Open at Turnberry, where he led early in the final round, Paramor watched him and afterward handed him a video to study.

"I think he struggles," Paramor said. "His pre-shot routine is not quick. Today was clearly very important to him -- he was contending -- and he was extending his routine by a whisker."

Jaidee, the world No. 199, led by one overnight, but fell one behind after running up a double-bogey 7 at the ninth.

At that point he had not had a single birdie, but he started for home with three in a row and was in control once he added an 18-foot birdie for another on the 15th.

That gave Jaidee the luxury of being able to bogey the 16th and long 18th and still take the victory.

For Bjorn and Fernandez-Castano, rounds of 68 and 67 were a great boost to their hopes of making this year's Ryder Cup, but the round of the day was a 65 from 45-year-old Paul McGinley.

The Dubliner, one of Colin Montgomerie's vice-captains two years ago and the favorite to lead the team at Gleneagles in 2014, didn’t drop a stroke and gave himself a chance of his first win in seven years when he birdied the difficult 16th into the wind and rain.

That is the hole forever to be remembered for Graeme McDowell's clinching birdie against the Americans. McGinley hit a drive and 3-wood to 40 feet and made the putt.