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Thongchai Jaidee named Asian Golfer of the Year

Thailand 's Thongchai Jaidee has received yet another accolade in his glowing career when he was named as the 2004 Johnnie Walker Asian Golfer of the Year on Saturday night.

Thongchai, a former paratrooper, was honoured at the Johnnie Walker Classic Gala Dinner held at the Great Hall of the People at Tiananmen Square . England 's Luke Donald was also presented the Johnnie Walker Young Player of the Year award.

It was the second time that Thongchai, who grew up playing golf with a make-shift three iron stuck on a bamboo stick, has received the prestigious title. He won it the first time in 2002 after becoming the Asian number one in the previous season.

In 2004, the Thai star enjoyed his best season yet when he won twice, including the Carlsberg Malaysian Open which made him the first Thai winner on The European Tour. With five other top-10s in nine starts, the Thai claimed his second Asian Tour Order of Merit title in four years with record winnings of US$381,929.

"I am honoured to receive this award again. Some of the past winners include great names like Zhang Lian-wei, Choi Kyung-ju, Arjun Atwal and Boonchu Ruangkit and I am proud to be in their company," said Thongchai, who entered the final round of the Johnnie Walker Classic in tied 12th place after a third round 64.

"My year's highlight in 2004 was probably winning in Malaysia as I made a hole in one on the final day."

The selection panel recognised Thongchai's efforts in Europe as well last season where he finished 43rd on The European Tour Order of Merit in his rookie year on the continent. Thongchai's memorable 2004 season also saw him earning invites from golf legend Jack Nicklaus to play in last year's Memorial Tournament and also the US PGA Championship, the year's final Major.

The 27-year-old Donald, presently ranked 13th in the world, was honoured after a tremendous season in 2004 where he won twice on The European Tour. He was also a member of the victorious European Ryder Cup team and capped his season in style by partnering Paul Casey to help England lift the WGC-World Cup title in Seville , Spain .


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