Thai talent pool expands with Thitiphun's rise

Mon 15 Feb 2016

Thai talent pool expands with Thitiphun's rise

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Sentosa, Singapore, February 15: Another tournament concluded, another new Thai winner celebrated.
Thitiphun Chuayprakhong, 23, won the Bashundhara Bangladesh Open over the weekend to make it three golfers from Thailand over the past four months to join the champions club on the Asian Tour, following in the footsteps of fellow youngsters Danthai Boonma and Natipong Srithong who were victorious in Singapore and the Philippines respectively in November.
The continuous flow of Thai winners emerging on the region’s premier Tour is least surprising as the likes of Thongchai Jaidee, Boonchu Ruangkit, Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Prayad Marksaeng and Thaworn Wiratchant have all blazed the trail on the international front over the past decade and more.
Danthai Boonma of Thailand Danthai Boonma of Thailand
The softly-spoken Thitiphun has been knocking on the door since 2011 when he pushed former world number one Lee Westwood all the way at the Indonesian Masters before finishing third. But his expected rise to prominence has not been as rapid as he had hoped for.
Perhaps, his golfing fortunes had everything to do with his nickname “Tote”, which means slow in Thai as his friends often teased him for doing things in his own languid pace. But Thitiphun certainly sped his way to a stylish victory, firing two rounds of 65s, a 66 and a final day 67 to win by two shots with an outstanding winning score of 21-under-par 263.
Over the past five seasons, he only once held full playing status on the Asian Tour after finishing 25th on the Order of Merit in 2012. He finished 75th on the rankings last season and a trip to Qualifying School failed to see him achieve the desired top-40 finish which meant he needed to rely on his country exemption.
But in his first appearance of the season after missing out on two co-sanctioned events this year, Thitiphun grabbed his opportunity at the Kurmitola Golf Club with both hands. Winning was a relief as much as it was joyous.
Natipong Srithong“This is a very important win for me. I have been waiting for a long time. I worked really hard for this. My parents and family were very supportive and without them, I wouldn’t have achieve this,” said Thitiphun, who moved up to fifth place on the Asian Tour’s Order of Merit with US$54,000.
With his win, Thitiphun will now tee up in this week’s inaugural US$3 million Maybank Championship Malaysia, which is co-sanctioned with the European Tour, at the Royal Selangor Golf Club.
What was meant to be an off week will now see the young Thai facing the likes of Darren Clarke, Martin Kaymer and Louis Oosthuizen, all Major champion and Asian Tour greats such as Thongchai, Kiradech and Jeev Milkha Singh of India in Malaysia starting from Thursday.
Asian Tour Order of Merit – Top-20
Pos Player Order of Merit (US$)
1. Younghan SONG (KOR) 188,287
2. Shaun NORRIS (RSA) 135,000
3. Jeunghun WANG (KOR) 68,400
4. LIANG Wen-chong (CHN) 63,000
5. Thitiphun CHUAYPRAKONG (THA)  54,000
6. Miguel TABUENA (PHI) 50,093
7. Casey O'TOOLE (USA) 36,972
8. Soomin LEE (KOR) 36,425
9. S.S.P. CHAWRASIA (IND) 33,891
10. Sutijet KOORATANAPISAN (THA)  33,000
11. Chapchai NIRAT (THA) 31,379
12. Sam BRAZEL (AUS) 25,995
13. Berry HENSON (USA) 25,012
14. Yikeun CHANG (KOR) 22,774
15. Brett MUNSON (USA) 21,666
16. Masahiro KAWAMURA (JPN) 20,895
17. Rahil GANGJEE (IND) 20,082
18. Thanyakon KHRONGPHA (THA) 19,676
19. Keith HORNE (RSA) 19,083
20. Carlos PIGEM (ESP) 18,936
About the Asian Tour
As the official sanctioning body for professional golf in Asia, the Asian Tour leads the development of golf across the region, enhancing the careers of its members while maintaining a commitment to the integrity of the game. The Asian Tour, through its membership of the International Federation of PGA Tours, is the only recognised pan-Asian professional golf tour in Asia. This unique feature positions the Asian Tour at the pinnacle of professional golf in Asia; providing its events with Official World Ranking status. Tour Partners include FENIX Golf (Official Apparel Supplier), Fuji Xerox (Official Office Solutions Partner), Hilton Worldwide (Official Hotel Partner), Titleist (Official Web Partner) and Rolex (Official Timekeeper). Sentosa, Singapore is the Home of the Asian Tour which also has an office in Kuala Lumpur. Also, visit us at www.asiantour.com, www.facebook.com/asiantourgolf, www.twitter.com/asiantourgolf, www.youtube.com/theasiantour and www.weibo.com/asiantourgolf.