Thai veteran Prayad turns 50, and tells Godfrey Robert he received the best birthday present
Thai birthday boy still in the swing of things
Birthday presents come in all shapes and sizes.
As they say, bigger does not mean better.
Thai golfer Prayad Marksaeng has received many presents, well packaged and held firm by colourful ribbons.
Yesterday, he received - or rather earned - one to treasure.
It wasn't tangible, but it was so special and something to savour.
The friendly Thai turned 50 yesterday, and was overjoyed and elated at the "gift" which arrived at Sentosa's Serapong course at noon.
After the rain-delayed second round was completed just before noon, Prayad jumped for joy at the knowledge that he would be partnered with world No. 1 Jordan Spieth for the third round.
"In my 25 years as a pro, I have never been in the same flight with a world No. 1.
"So this draw was a gift from heaven," said the Thai veteran who has played in three of the four Majors (he missed the US Open) in a chequered career that as given him 15 Tour victories.
The figure 50 has added significance, for this was the 50th Singapore Open which was inaugurated in 1961.
For two-and-a-half days starting on Thursday, Prayad could only take glances at Spieth's swings as he was in the threesome ahead of the American's flight.
But yesterday, the Hua Hin resident shared the same tee box, walked beside the "glamour boy" and watched first-hand the golf maestro's play.
No doubt, the excitable experience - one that many top Singapore pros had yearned for - could have had a better ring about it.
After starting the third round with some promise, and lying sixth with Spieth at one stage, Prayad slipped with a couple of bogeys and a double-bogey for a two-over score and at a three-under total.
It is still heartening that he, along with Chapchai Nirat, were the best performing Thais when play was called off at dusk because of poor light with his flight having two holes to play.
Spieth is lying joint-fifth on six under and the other flightmate Paul Peterson is on four under and in joint-14th spot.
However, the trailing Prayad is not one to easily bend over.
Singapore's Samson Gimson, who has played with Prayad on numerous occasions as an amateur and pro - even on the Japan Tour - said previously: "Prayad is a tough cookie.
"He never shies away from a game fight, and is a tough competitor. His easy-going ways and good mannerisms give the impression that he is not a battler.
"But, boy, on the golf course, he is a deadly rival and a dependable ally."
A member of Thailand's winning team at the 1987 South-east Asia Games, he was one of the first 10 golfers on the Asian Tour to reach US$1 million in career earnings.
Prayad represented Thailand at the 2007 and 2008 Omega Mission Hills World Cup and has been featured in the top 100 of the Official World Golf Ranking although currently he is on 102.
He is slated to represent Thailand at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro with anchorman Thongchai Jaidee and could be in the same company as Spieth in Brazil.
So is it time to pop the champagne or down a Singha beer?
Sorry, that has to put on hold for Prayad has a big date this morning, another early 7.30am start as yesterday in the company of Spieth.
At 50, this popular Thai still has a spring in his step, and a swing to behold.
Suksan wan gert krap* (happy birthday), Prayad.