Phuket, Thailand: Napat Paramacharoenroj returns to familiar surrounds when he begins the defence of his Faldo Series Asia title this week.
It was six months ago that 16-year-old Napat, nicknamed ‘Khun Toy’, scored a stunning victory in the 11th Faldo Series Asia Grand Final at Laguna Golf Lăng Cô in the Central Vietnamese city of Danang.
Now his sights are set on becoming only the third two-time winner of the Asian crown and the second after Indian Rashid Khan to achieve the feat in successive years.
There’s no doubt that Napat will feel right at home when he steps onto the first tee at Laguna Golf Phuket on Friday in the opening round of the second staging of the Faldo Series Thailand South Championship.
For not only is Napat a member at the Phuket club that is a Golf Course Facility Member of the Asian Golf Industry Federation, but also it’s the venue at which he triumphed in last year’s Faldo Series Thailand South Championship to book himself a place in the Grand Final.
As such, he’s certain to start as an overwhelming favourite in the seventh leg of the 2017-18 Faldo Series Asia season.
Among those most likely to push him is Phaiboon Phumkliang, winner of the Boys’ Under-21 category and joint second overall to Napat last year.
Paul Wilson, Assistant Vice President, Group Golf Director, Laguna Golf, said: “Laguna Golf Phuket can look back on last year’s inaugural Faldo Series Thailand South Championship with an immense sense of pride. The standout story was, of course, Khun Toy winning our event and going on to win the overall Faldo Series Asia Grand Final at Laguna Golf Lăng Cô.
“Furthermore, we were able to help the other young players gain valuable golf and life experiences which will benefit them in the future. This year we again hope to create opportunities for young golfers in Southern Thailand.
“We are honoured to have Sir Nick as our Laguna Golf Ambassador. Our team at Laguna Golf is proud to have the association with Sir Nick Faldo and his Faldo Series.”
All age group winners at the Phuket event will qualify for the 12th Faldo Series Asia Grand Final, to be hosted by Faldo at Laguna Lăng Cô in March, 2018.
Six-time Major championship winner Faldo, Britain’s most successful golfer, said: “Napat really impressed me with his performance in the Grand Final this year. He showed tremendous skill and composure for one so young and I’m looking forward to seeing for myself how he is progressing.
“It would be quite an achievement for Napat to follow in the footsteps of Rashid Khan and Japan’s Masamichi Ito and win the Faldo Series Asia title twice.”
This year marks the second time that Thailand has hosted two Faldo Series Asia qualifiers with Weerawish Narkprachar having upstaged some of his country’s leading juniors to emerge triumphant in the 12th edition of the Faldo Series Thailand Championship (North) at Plutaluang Navy Golf Course, south of Pattaya, in May.
The 2017-18 Faldo Series Asia season is supported by The R&A and endorsed by the Asian Tour and the Asia Pacific Golf Confederation. The International Junior Golf Academy is a partner of the Faldo Series.
As well as two events in China, India and Thailand, championships are being staged in Australia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Chinese-Taipei, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Nepal, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam.
Hainan Island, China: Yalong Bay Golf Club, one of China’s best-known and most prolific tournament venues, has joined the Asian Golf Industry Federation.