Big Dolphin Prom ready for big splash

Fri 10 May 2013

Big Dolphin Prom ready for big splash

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May 10: Thailand’s Prom Meesawat is competing in his 10th season on the Asian Tour in 2013. The burly Thai has enjoyed the highs and lows throughout his career, winning a maiden title in 2006 before enduring a lean spell in 2010 and 2011 before regaining his best form last year which also saw him earn his European Tour card.
In an exclusive Q&A, Prom, who is nicknamed the Big Dolphin due to his physique and the fact that he hails from a coastal town, talks about his journey with the Asian Tour, the hardship which he faced and his goals and aspirations which include winning a Major championship.
You’ve had a nice start to 2013. What have you been focusing on in pre-season to prepare for your year ahead?
I’ve been working hard on my fitness, to get myself ready for the new season. I’ve lost a bit of weight and tried to get my abdomen muscles  stronger. I also worked on getting my back and shoulder stronger as I’ve had some injuries in those areas in the past. When I am stronger, it helps a lot with my game and swing. It’s certainly helped my golf. When your body is ready, you can swing it well and do whatever you want. The results tend to become better.
It must have been nice to get your European campaign off on a solid footing in the Middle East?Prom Meesawat
I opened with a 76 in Abu Dhabi but my game was still okay. My goal for the first tournament was to make the cut and I was very happy that I managed to come back in the second round. Then I finished in the top-20 in Qatar. It was a good start to the season and a good learning experience for me.
How do you plan to juggle between both the Asian Tour and European Tour?
I’m going to try to play as much as I can on the Asian Tour during the first half of the year and then I’ll go over to Europe. I’m going to play in everything that I can to get my ranking up. It would help if I win early in the year which would give me the winner’s exemption and not worry too much about my rankings at the end of the season.
It’s been far too long since you won the SK Telecom in 2006 on the Asian Tour hasn’t it?
It’s been a long time. Everybody wants to win. For me, it’s been a long time. I can say now that there are now many young talents coming up. Every golfer is playing well, the game is getting closer amongst the top guys. All I can say is that if I have a good week in Europe or Asia, I can win. It’s only takes one good week and you can win anywhere. I certainly want to try to win on the Asian Tour again.
The Asian Tour is celebrating its 10th season since our launch as a players’ organisation which coincides with your playing career as well. What do you recall from your rookie season?
My first full season was in 2004. When I was a young boy, I watched players like Boonchu Ruangkit and Prayad Marksaeng play and I wanted to be like them. My dad (Suthep) is also an inspiration. Looking back the past 10 years, I’m now in the top-20 of the Career Earnings list on the Asian Tour which is quite an achievement for me.
Do you still think about that first win in Korea to motivate you?
The win in Korea is still in my memory as it was my first international win. It was special as KJ Choi and Jeev Milkha Singh were in the field and these guys are winners now on the PGA Tour and European Tour. They are amongst the best players in the world. Everybody expects me to win more than once on the Asian Tour. But I can’t force it. I lost to Chinnarat Phadungsil in a play-off and had a few other close calls and lost to Anirban Lahiri in another play-off.  The quality of the fields is getting stronger and it’s difficult to win.
What do you think makes someone like Thaworn Wiratchant, who has 15 wins, and you different?170313_AM_Prom Meesawat (THA) 01
I can say that Thaworn has a great shot game, one of the best in the world. That’s helped his scores. He can save his scores when he is missing shots. He can scramble so well which is the key thing. Right now, I’m hitting it well but if I don’t make the putts, I won’t make a score. If I can improve my short game to be like Thaworn and to be mentally strong like him, I think I can be like him. I think I have 16 more years to catch up with what he’s done. I just need to keep working hard. He has worked hard over the years. He’s very good for the game, an inspiration to me and other Thai players. But I know I can become better. My goal is to win one Major championship which only hard work will help me achieve this goal.
You had some lean years and lost your Tour card. How difficult was that period for you?
I had some injuries in 2010 and 2011 and kept playing with the injuries. I started hitting it bad and my confidence was gone. My game was gone. When I stepped onto the tee box, I didn’t know where the ball would go. Mentally, I was gone. I felt really bad during that spell. Everyone in Thailand expected me to be a very good player but I had a bad two years. I knew I needed to find something. I found sports psychologist, Dr Pichit, who works with the Thai Olympic boxing team. I worked with him for one year and it really helped my game. At that time, I didn’t know how to hit the driver. I didn’t have any confidence. He taught me how to think better. If there’s water on the left and OB on the right, why don’t I just think about the fairway in the middle and pick a target on the fairway? He gave me some ideas on how to deal with that in my head. When you have a bad feeling, you always think about the bad things.
Did you friends stick with you and gave you encouragement? Who was the biggest source of support?
During my down time, my wife (Supichaya Panyathep) and family were very supportive. All my friends supported me and asked me what was happening and showed concern. They stood behind me which helped me get back to my game. My wife told me not to worry. She said everybody goes up and comes back down sometimes. I never thought for once I would never find my game again. When I lost my card, I knew it would be tough to get the card back as I wasn’t in the co-sanctioned events. The fields were getting stronger and I knew I had to play well in the smaller events and then I had like five top-10s in 2011 which made my year easier.
Tell us how you got the nickname Big Dolphin?
When I was an amateur, the Thai media started this. Since I was big and I liked to swim whenever I can, they coined the name Big Dolphin. I actually like the name and my driver cover is a dolphin.
You have also spent time in a Buddhist monastery. Did that help you in anyway for your golf?
In the monastery, you have to be pray before 8am every day and you can’t have food after 12 noon. You can have only two meals per day. You read the books by Buddha and meditate and pray on them. I’ve been a monk for 20 days when I was 20 years old, which is a Thai tradition for a young man where you have to do this for your family. And on the second occasion, I went to India for eight days. I think it certainly has helped in my golf as it creates a sense of calmness.
What was it like growing up with your dad being a famous golfer? (Note: Hi father, Suthep was the first Thai golfer to win the Thailand Open)
When I was young, I always watched my dad play and it helped me a lot. He was a top player in Thailand and he had to fight as he wasn’t from a rich family. I think I’m a bit lucky as my dad’s winnings helped in my career.. He basically set up everything for me. I also had very good support from Khun Santhi Bhiromhakdi from Singha, who supported my dad and my family. He saw me grow up as a child and my first golf set was from him. I’m lucky to have my dad’s support including from Khun Santi and Singha. I think I had more opportunities that Thaworn Wiratchant and Prayad Marksaeng when they were growing up.
I want to give back to the kids, set up an academy one day when I retire. But before I do that, I want to win a Major championship. That’s my lifelong goal. I have many years to try to achieve it. I’ve played only once in the British Open and I’m going to give it a shot and try to move up the world rankings.
Ends
About Prom
Country: Thailand
Residence: Hua Hin
Date of Birth: July 21, 1984
Family: Married; Wife: Supichaya Panyathep
Turned Pro: 2004
ASIAN TOUR VICTORY: (1) 2006 SK Telecom Open, Korea.
OTHER WINS: (3) 2006 Singha Pattaya Open, 2011 Singha Pattaya Open, Thailand, 2012 Singha Pattaya Open, Thailand.