Bangkok, Thailand: Inspired by the exploits of Atiruj Winaicharoenchai, a talented cast of young Thais will be gunning for glory in the 11th edition of the Faldo Series Thailand Championship [North].
Underlining his reputation as one of Asia’s brightest young golfing prospects, Atiruj scored an accomplished victory at last year’s Faldo Series Thailand Championship and went on to finish overall runner-up in the Grand Final.
Although 15-year-old Atiruj’s place in the starting line-up for this week’s 36-hole event at Watermill Golf and Gardens is in doubt due to national team commitments, his impressive efforts on the international stage have served to encourage his young compatriots.
Seksan Suwannapura, a driving force in junior golf development in Thailand and a mentor to many of the country’s promising teenage golfers, said: “We have a lot of good young Thai players coming through. They saw what Atiruj achieved at the Faldo Series Asia Grand Final and want to try to emulate that performance.”
Among those expected to contend in the third leg of the record-breaking 2016-17 Faldo Series Asia season are Natthaporn Wiangchanok, who placed third in the Under-18 category in the 2015 Thailand qualifier.
There are also high hopes for 14-year-old Panchalika Arpamongkol, one of Thailand’s most exciting female golfing prospects.
Winners of the age-group categories at Watermill Golf and Gardens will earn themselves places in the 11th Faldo Series Asia Grand Final, to be hosted by Sir Nick Faldo at Laguna Lang Co in Danang, Vietnam, in March, 2017.
It will be the first occasion since the Series was launched in 2007 that the Grand Final – an R&A World Amateur Golf Ranking event – has been held at a venue other than Mission Hills China.
In another first for the Faldo Series Asia this year, two qualifiers will be staged in Thailand.
As well as this week’s event, the inaugural Faldo Series Thailand Championship [South], to be staged at Laguna Phuket, is slated to take place in September.
Six-time Major champion Faldo, Britain’s most successful golfer, said: “From the first year we launched the Faldo Series Asia, Thailand has been a staunch supporter.
“I’m delighted, therefore, that this year we will be expanding to include two qualifiers in Thailand on the schedule. In particular my thanks go to Khun Seksan Suwannapura and to the Thailand Golf Association for all they have done to promote the game.
“I enjoyed watching Kiradech Aphibarnrat playing so well in the Masters at Augusta National last month. He is an exceptional talent. My hope is that through the Faldo Series Thailand championships we can uncover and nurture the next golfing stars from the country.”
Supported by The R&A and endorsed by the Asian Tour and the Asia Pacific Golf Confederation, the 2016-17 Faldo Series Asia campaign stretches over 11 months.
As well as three events in China and two each in India and Thailand, championships will be staged in Australia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Chinese-Taipei, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Nepal, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam.