This week’s International Series Thailand, the third event of the 2023 International Series schedule that provides a pathway to LIV Golf playing privileges, gets going this week.
When: March 9-12
Where: Black Mountain Golf Club, Hua Hin District, Prachaubkirikhan, Thailand
Yardage: 7,552 yards
Field: 156 players from 26 different countries, including 45 players from Thailand
Last year’s winner: Sihwan Kim
Purse: $2 million
PLAYERS TO WATCH
ANDY OGLETREE – The International Series Order of Merit leader has won two of the last four International Series tournaments going back to last season, including the most recent one in Qatar last month. The American’s last five Asian Tour starts include two wins and two other top 10s. “Confidence-wise, I don’t know how I could get a lot higher,” said the former US Amateur champ.
SADOM KAEWKANJANA – Thailand’s top-ranked golfer, who played the full LIV Golf season in 2022, tied for 32nd in this event last year. In his eight International Series starts since then, he has six top 10 finishes, including a tie for second earlier this season in Oman.
TAKUMI KANAYA – The winner in Oman currently ranks second in the International Series Order of Merit. The 24-year-old from Japan was ranked as the No. 1 amateur for more than a year prior to turning pro in 2020. His most recent start was a T28 at the Thailand Classic.
RATCHANON “TK” CHANTANANUWAT – The teenage amateur from Thailand, who just turned 16 years old on March 4, makes his first International Series start of the season. It was less than a year ago that he won an Asian Tour event to become the youngest golfer to win on any elite tour.
WHAT THEY SAID
Australian Travis Smyth had to withdraw after the first round last year at Black Mountain but is glad to return to Thailand. “We’re in paradise,” Smyth said. “The weather is amazing, it’s not too hot. We’re on the ocean and we’re playing a little golf on the side this week, so it’s pretty special. Thailand is unbelievable.”
The 28-year-old has had two top 10s from three events in 2023 and likes his chances. “I wouldn’t be surprised if I were to win this week,” he said.
Describing what it means to him to play so close to where he grew up, Prom Meesawat said: “As a Thai player we’re always very excited to play in Thailand. This week is very special for me in particular as I’m in my hometown where I can stay in my own bed and see my family here in Hua Hin.”
The three-time Asian Tour winner said the International Series is “good for the Asian Tour and it’s exciting for players like me and the younger generation to play for more money and to have the opportunity to qualify for LIV.”
Gunn Charoenkul was plagued by injury throughout the COVID pandemic but has bounced back emphatically, highlighted by earning the biggest payday of his career with a second place in the International Series Qatar. He now stands third in the International Series Order of Merit.
“The International Series is the next level of Asian Tour tournaments and special in every way,” said the Thai veteran, who represented his country in the Tokyo Olympics. “They always pick good golf courses and all of us enjoy playing International Series events, especially when we have one on home soil.”
Gunn played impressively in the New Zealand Open last weekend, finishing in a tie for sixth.