Thongchai Jaidee makes history with victory in US

Thongchai Jaidee makes history with victory in US

Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand holds the winner's trophy with his caddie Nutthapon Chinnajak on the 18th green after winning the American Family Insurance Championship at University Ridge Golf Club on Sunday in Madison, Wisconsin. (AFP photo)
Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand holds the winner's trophy with his caddie Nutthapon Chinnajak on the 18th green after winning the American Family Insurance Championship at University Ridge Golf Club on Sunday in Madison, Wisconsin. (AFP photo)

Thongchai Jaidee sank a slippery birdie putt at the 17th hole and went on to win the American Family Insurance Championship by one stroke on Sunday in Madison, Wisconsin.

Thongchai, a veteran with 21 career wins across Europe and Asia, became the first player from Thailand to win on the PGA Tour Champions.

Tom Pernice Jr. finished second after shooting 6-under 66.

Thongchai's crucial birdie followed a bogey on the previous hole and helped him card a final-round, 4-under-par 68 to finish at 14-under 202 at University Ridge Golf Club.

The 52-year-old made birdie at the par-4 15th hole to move to 14 under for the first time. But he ended up with a bogey 6 at the par-5 16th after losing his tee shot.

At No. 17, a par 3, he tapped a downhill, right-to-left putt that caught the outside lip of the cup and fell for birdie, giving him back sole possession of the lead. From there, he saved at the last hole to secure the victory.

"I played solid, solid, solid (all) week," Thongchai said. "I took one mistake on 16, hit the 3 and lost the ball, we make good bogey and try to get my plan. Holed a good putt on 17 and the game changed. I think my (confidence with) the putting, that's what helped me a lot for this week."

Pernice's bogey-free round set the clubhouse pace at 13 under before Jaidee's final stretch.

Jerry Kelly (67), Marco Dawson (67), Kirk Triplett (68) and Spain's Miguel Angel Jimenez (70) tied for third at 12 under. England's Paul Broadhurst (70) was alone in seventh at 11 under, and John Daly shot a 69 to tie Paul Goydos (71) and Sweden's Robert Karlsson (69) for eighth at 10 under.

Kelly, a Madison native, was both the two-time defending champion of his hometown event (2019, 2021) and coming off a victory last week on tour. He played a clean final round with five birdies and no bogeys.

"I'd like to start another streak next year," Kelly said. "Yeah, these guys put on a fantastic tournament, don't they? It's pretty impressive it's in our hometown. It's fun."

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