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Jaidee overcomes nerves to win Wales Open

ESPN staff
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Thongchai Jaidee had some hairy moments but held on for glory © PA Photos
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Thongchai Jaidee battled through some anxious moments to claim his first European Tour title outside of Asia with a narrow one-shot triumph at the Wales Open.

Holding a slender one-shot lead heading into Sunday's final round, the three-time Asian No. 1 saw his advantage quickly erased as Joost Luiten joined him at the top of the leaderboard after the Thai bogeyed the par-four fourth.

Jaidee then reclaimed the outright lead after his rival bogeyed the short seventh, but it was all change once more when the Dutchman birdied the ninth while Jaidee lost a ball and toiled to a double-bogey seven.

As a four-time European Tour winner, Jaidee knows how to grind out victories, however, and hit back by picking up shots at 10 and 11 before draining a 10-footer at the difficult 12th for a third successive birdie.

An 18-foot birdie putt at the 15th saw Jaidee move two clear of Luiten, before both players dropped a shot at the next as the tension started to show. Fortunately for Jaidee, Luiten had run out of steam and could only par the closing two holes, allowing the big-driving Thai to creep over the line after bogeying the last.

Following a one-over par 72 for a six-under total, Jaidee said of his first victory on European soil: "I want to say thank-you to all my family, all the supporters and the sponsors here. Conditions were quite tough for me. I tried to hit everything on the fairway - that's the main thing - then hit the ball on the green. It was very, very tough for me, not like Thailand!"

Luiten had to make do with a share of second place after a final-round 72 saw him fall agonisingly short. Thomas Bjorn finished strongly, rolling in five birdies en route to a closing 68 to join Luiten on five-under, alongside Richard Sterne (68) and Gonzalo Fdez-Castano (67).

Ross Fisher will have to wait to end a three-year winless streak after the Englishman signed for a disappointing 73 on the final day at Celtic Manor. Fisher, who did not adhere to European Tour rules when taking too long over shots at the 11th and 14th, finished in a tie for sixth on four-under. Paul McGinley ended the week on the same score after posting a sparkling bogey-free 65.

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