Jazz ready for more rock & roll

Wed 04 Dec 2013

Jazz ready for more rock & roll

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Kuala Lumpur, December 4: Thai teenage phenom Jazz Janewattananond is fast becoming a name to remember on the Asian Tour and has been tipped by golf legend and countryman Thongchai Jaidee for greatness. 
Still only 18, Jazz has been one of the star attractions this season, and it’s not purely due only to the loud and often dizzying colours of his golfing apparel.
His prodigious talent has seen him produce impressive back-to-back top-10s at the Resorts World Manila Masters and Indonesia Open and with US$104,500 in the bank this season, the slender Thai is assured of full playing rights on the Asian Tour next season.
Already in the history books as the youngest to make the cut at the 2010 Asian Tour International in Bangkok, Jazz is tipped by many to follow in the footsteps of Thai legends Boonchu Ruangkit, Thaworn Wiratchant and Thongchai Jaidee, who was recently named captain of Team Asia to face Europe for the inaugural EurAsia Cup presented by DRB-HICOM in Malaysia next March.
Thongchai, the only man to win three Asian Tour Order of Merit titles, is predicting a very rosy future for his young compatriot after playing together in the final group in the final round of the Indonesia Open last week.
“Jazz is a very good player but he needs more experience. I have no complaints about his game and he will learn by playing with big players like us. He is a good player and very young, so he has plenty of time to learn. He will be the golfer to look out for in the future. He practices very hard and if he continues playing like this, he will be a superstar,” said Thongchai, who is ranked 47th in the world.
The tenacious Jazz entered the final round tied for the lead with eventual winner Gaganjeet Bhullar of India but was forced to settle for tied sixth place after closing with a 74.
Bhullar, who picked up his fifth Asian Tour victory, was complimentary of the young Thai prodigy. “I’ve played all four days with Jazz and trust me, this boy is a really good player. He could possibly be the next golf star from Thailand. He has that perfect swing and the mental ability to go out there and compete,” said Bhullar.
“I was very impressed with his performance. I think it’s his first time being in such scenario (playing in the final group). I am sure he will become a better player in time to come.”
Jazz, who played for the Thai amateur team before turning professional in 2010, has proven to be a model of consistency as in 14 events this year, he has only missed one cut.
With a debut appearance at the US$1 million Thailand Golf Championship up next week, the Thai boy will be eager to impress on home soil. He said he would learn from the harsh lessons from Indonesia as he continues his search for a maiden Asian Tour win.
“I played with Bhullar and that taught me a lot of things. I need to be more consistent and patient,” said Jazz.
“I was talking to my dad during the rain delay and I told him that I did my best. He was watching me on television with my grandmother and grandfather. My dad said they are really proud of me and that really made me feel happy, knowing they were supporting me. This tournament (Indonesia Open) means a lot to me because it is my first Asian Tour tournament that I played in the last group on the final day. It is a good experience.”
His real name is Atiwit but the Radiohead music junkie switched his tournament registration name to Jazz as all his friends and family nicknamed him that.
“Every foreigner that is not Thai calls me Jazz and that’s when I decided to change my name. My nickname has always been Jazz since I was young. Everyone knows Jazz and not Atiwit. I think my dad gave me the nickname because he likes jazz music but I like Radiohead so there’s a bit of a conflict there,” he flashed yet another of his boyish grin.