Thongchai Jaidee became the first Thai winner in PGA Tour Champions history on Sunday, closing with a 4-under 68 for a one-shot win in the U.S. Family Insurance Championship.
A week after making his way into the event with a 10th-place finish in Iowa, Thongchai, 52, earned his 19th start on the 50-plus circuit.
“It’s very important to me,” Thongchai said. “The game has changed. Now I’m very, very happy to be on tour.
Thongchai bounced back from a bogey on the par-5 16th with a birdie on the par-3 17th and closed with a par. He finished at 14 under 202 at University Ridge.
“Great tournament here,” Thongchai said. “I played solid, solid, solid. Made a mistake out of 16, touched the tree and lost the ball. We bogey well and try to have my plan. A putt well on 17 and the game changed, I think my confidence in putting, that’s what helped me a lot this week.
Tom Pernice Jr. finished second after a 66.
“I’m happy for Thongchai,” Pernice said. “He had a little bad break there on the 16th to hit the trees and lose the ball, so to fight back and bogey and then birdie 17, he deserves to win.”
Miguel Angel Jimenez, tied for the second-round lead with Thongchai, had a 70 tied for third at 12 under with local favorite Jerry Kelly (67), Marco Dawson (67) and Kirk Triplett (68).
“Nothing worked out on the greens today,” Jimenez said.
Kelly, winner last week at Iowa in the playoffs, was trying to win the event – hosted by Madison’s friend Steve Stricker – for the third straight time. He won in 2019 and 2021, while the 2020 one was canceled due to the pandemic.
Stricker finished with a 67 tied for 11th at 9 under.
“Fun to watch,” Stricker said. “What another great week. The sun decided to show at the very end, better late than never I guess. Another wonderful week here. Huge crowd support, sponsor support and player support. We had it all again.