Thongchai Jaidee is looking forward to the defence of the Ballantine’s Championship that he won last year after a thrilling three-way play-off in South Korea.

The Thai will be back in the field looking to retain the biggest title of his career when the €2.2 million showpiece returns to Pinx Golf Club on the island of Jeju on April 22.

“I’m really looking forward to going back to defend my Ballantine’s Championship title because I have very special memories of my win there last year,” said Jaidee.

“I felt good going into the week because I’d been playing well and was building up some momentum. Then on the final day I played one of my best rounds because even though the conditions were tough I hit 17 greens and only made one bogey with a three putt.”

The 40-year-old converted a six-foot birdie putt on the first extra hole to claim his fourth European Tour title, defeating Spain’s Gonzalo Fernández-Castaño and local hero Kang Sung Hoon.

“It was a great feeling to win and it was nice to get a big cheque at the end, but I didn’t buy myself anything with it – I just put it in the bank, to keep my wife happy!” added Jaidee.

“More importantly, the win moved me up the Race to Dubai and the world rankings, and helped me get into tournaments like the World Golf Championships and hopefully the Masters.

“It gives you great confidence when you win and I’ve carried that into this season. If I qualify for the Masters and play well there, it should give me the confidence to go and win again.”

Jaidee will face a tough defence in South Korea with Ernie Els present – the South African right back in form with wins at Doral and at the Arnold Palmer Invitational – plus 2008 Ballantine’s Championship winner, Graeme McDowell, will be looking to regain the title.

Also in a strong line-up will be Korean hero Yang Yong Eun, who became Asia’s first ever Major winner when he captured the PGA Championship last year. In addition, Anthony Kim, Henrik Stenson and Miguel Angel Jiménez have all been confirmed.

The Ballantine’s Championship, the first European Tour event to be played in Korea, will once again be co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour and Korea PGA.

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