- The hectic-double life of teenage golf sensation from Thailand, Ratchanon Chantananuwat.
- The 15-year-old maestro is the youngest male player to win the US$750,000 Trust Golf Asian Mixed Cup
- He is keen on treading in the footsteps of Colin Morikawa and Patty Tavatanakit, who graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, and UCLA, respectively, before achieving tremendous success.
A teenage golf sensation from Thailand, Ratchanon Chantananuwat, has been in the limelight ever since he won the US$750,000 Trust Golf Asian Mixed Cup to become the youngest male player to do so. At Siam Country Club’s Waterside Course, the 15-year-old amateur shot a 7-under-par 65 to finish on 20 under par and beat Korean Kim Joo-Hyung. Kim, who shot 64, finished one stroke behind American left-hander Paul Peterson and South Korean Kim Bi-o, who shot 68 and 69, respectively.
This month he’s stessentialing for essential biology and economics examinations, the stress he’s had to manage alongside representing Thailand in the 31st Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Vietnam.
It’s a fine line to tread, but Ratchanon is undeterred and has a point to prove. He reportedly said, “It gets difficult at times, but I embrace the challenge.” “I’d like to do well in both and disprove all of the sceptics.” You can’t do well in school if you’re an athlete. That’s something I’m striving to fix.”
Victory on the Asian Tour represented a new high point in one of the sport’s brightest rising stars’ careers. Ratchanon had had a meteoric ascent since becoming the youngest player to ever make the cut on the All Thailand Golf Tour in August 2020, when he was just 13 years and four months old. Incredibly, he came agonisingly close to winning his maiden Asian Tour tournament earlier, finishing third at the Singapore International in January.
The genesis of Ratchanon’s golf game reads like a comic book. TK — a nickname combining his parents’ initials — began playing with plastic clubs and balls at the age of three and finished last in his first event at the age of four. Ratchanon recalls being jealous of the person who won the trophy and was furious because he was unable to figure out why he didn’t land one. His father then had to explain how his competitor played and won the trophy. So, after a month of intense preparation under the guidance of a similarly passionate, golf-loving father, Ratchanon bagged the trophy on his second try.
Ratchanon, who has been warned about fatigue, has begun to take half days off on occasion, using the time for tutoring, physiotherapy, or fitness, but dismisses any indication of burnout saying that he enjoys practising golf.
He admits to having aches and pains occasionally and that the sport demands a great deal of discipline, but remains undeterred since the hard work always pays off.
And who better to watch Ratchanon’s rise than fellow Thai Thongchai Jaidee, a 20-time professional winner on the Asian Tour. Since their initial meeting in 2019, the 52-year-old legend has aided the kid with many elements of his game.
When Ratchanon wanted to learn how to use his hero’s spinning chip, the two spent three weeks practising for six hours a day.
Thongchai has also aided in the development of the teen’s mental game, assisting him in the implementation of a routine to combat performance drops under duress. Ratchanon now has a strategy for big moments: slow down, take a drink, and swing “without hesitation.”
Speaking of the future, Ratchanon is already planning to study physics at a university in the United States while continuing his golf balancing act. He wants to follow in the footsteps of Colin Morikawa and Patty Tavatanakit of Thailand, both of whom graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, and UCLA, respectively, before achieving tremendous success.