Photo credit: Paul Lakatos/Asian Tour
By Kent Gray
After a 20-month pandemic enforced hiatus and a recent $200 million cash injection, the resumption of the Asian Tour in Phuket is the only fresh storyline the rejuvenated circuit really needed this week. But how about young Ratchanon Chantananuwat for a worthy subplot.
The 14-year-old Thai amateur is set for his Asian Tour debut at the Blue Canyon Phuket Championship on Thursday and will also tee it up in next week’s Laguna Phuket Championship, the second leg of the Asian Tour’s much-anticipated Phuket Series. Given the teen’s form in the lead-up to the $1 million event, this is no thinly-veiled publicity stunt either; the kid’s clearly got game.
Chantananuwat, or “TK” as he is nicknamed, has been the find of the All Thailand Golf Tour (ATGT) this year, finishing top amateur in six successive events. Even more impressively, Chantananuwat starred on the two courses that make up the Asian Tour Phuket Series; he was joint fifth in the Singha All Thailand Championship on the Canyon Course at Blue Canyon and second in the Singha Laguna Phuket Open at Laguna Golf Phuket.
Throw in the fact he finished T-16th at the Thailand Open last month and owns the ATGT record as the youngest player to make the cut at 13 years, four months and 18 days, and it’s hardly surprising that there is genuine interest in the youngster who will have his father, Tara, on his bag this week.
— Asian Tour (@asiantourgolf) November 24, 2021
“Obviously, this is my first Asian Tour event, I am aware that the players are really good, there’s a lot of top players here, so I am just mainly focusing on myself,” said Chantananuwat who led after the third round of the Singha All Thailand Championship on the Canyon course.
“I have played well at these clubs at the recent ATGT events. It feels really good to finish as best amateur six times in a row, I am just trying to go for the big one now.”
Studying for his IGCEs at Shrewsbury International School in Bangkok, Chantananuwat isn’t letting this momentous week keep him from his school work either. He missed a double English lesson to play a practice round on Monday but made up for it with some online physics and English classes yesterday.
“Obviously it should be 50/50 for the most part but at certain times I have to focus on one thing or another depending what is more important at the time. For example, right now I have to pretty much put my full attention on these two events, therefore I am prioritising golf and practice way more than school.
“I know if I spend a bit of time revising and talking to my teachers I can catch up. Depending on my tee times this week, if early or late, I can slot in a period to study.”
It is the start of this new four-event stretch (including two events scheduled for Singapore in January) that will finish the stalled 2020-21 season that has Chantananuwat’s “full attention” this week. While most are focused on playing their way into the top-30 in the Order of Merit come late January to secure a place in the Asian Tour’s new $5million, 2022 season-opening Saudi International in February, TK’s motivation is more refined.
“My game is ok. I just want to make sure I am dialled in because if I want to do well then the driver’s got to be on point, hitting has to be on point, I have to make the putts, put my irons close, everything has to be as good as possible.”
— Asian Tour (@asiantourgolf) November 22, 2021