AKRON, Ohio -- History suggests that Prayad Marksaeng won't be in the lead or close to it late Sunday afternoon, but at least he has done himself a service by again going low in the first round, and thus allowing his compelling story to be told.
Just as he did in the last WGC event, the WGC-CA Championship at Doral in March, Marksaeng, a native of Thailand, was at the top of the leaderboard in the first round. At Doral, he opened with a 65 that tied him for the lead. At the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club on Thursday, he was the early co-leader (with Tim Clark) by virtue of a four-under par 66.
A refresher on Marksaeng: He grew up dirt poor, one of 13 kids in the family, who worked odd jobs to help out, including pedaling a bicycle taxi. His first golf club was homemade from a chunk of wood and a bamboo stick for a shaft. For a golf ball, he climbed a tree and waited until a Japanese tourist playing Royal Mua Min nearby hit one off line and into the jungle, knowing that the coral snakes would dissuade him from wandering in after it. From his perch in the tree, Marksaeng would spot the ball, then climb down to collect it and claim it as his own.
From so humble a beginning, it is remarkable that Marksaeng ever found success as a professional golfer. He's ranked 63rd in the world, though most of the success that has allowed him to join the game's elite has occurred on the Asian Tour. His tie for 13th at Doral and a tie for 15th in the PGA Championship last year represent by a wide margin the best he's ever played in the U.S. or on a world stage.
-- John Strege