Bangkok, Thailand: Navin Sakunsirasuntorn illustrated the strength in depth of amateur golf in his country as he swept to a four-stroke success in the 13th edition of the Faldo Series Thailand Championship (North).
Showing scant regard for his lowly ranking, Navin proved too strong for his rivals at Watermill Golf & Gardens in the fifth leg of the 2018-19 Faldo Series Asia season.
Quickly finding his range, Navin soared to the top of the leaderboard on the back of an opening five-under-par 67. Playing steadily on day two, his lead never came under serious threat.
With a two-round total of seven-under 137, Navin not only retained his Faldo Series Thailand Championship (North) Boys’ Under-21 title but also claimed the overall trophy – finishing comfortably ahead of defending champion Weerawish Narkprachar and Putt Sridama, both of whom are ahead of him in the The R&A World Amateur Golf Ranking.
Like Navin, Boys’ Under-16 category winner Weerawish can now look forward to a return to Laguna Lăng Cô in Danang, Vietnam for the 13th Faldo Series Asia Grand Final, to be hosted by Sir Nick Faldo in March, 2019.
Both will be determined to improve on their performances in the 12th Grand Final when Navin placed ninth in the Boys’ Under-21 segment and Weerawish finished 15th in the Boys’ Under-16 division.
The Thailand team at next year’s showpiece will also include Sirawitch Phadee (Boys’ Under-18 winner), Napaknaree Sirithorn (Girls’ Under-21 winner) and Kan Bunnabodee (Girls’ Under-16 winner).
Kan, in particular, has been in outstanding form over the past 12 months, winning both the Singapore Ladies Amateur Open and Malaysian Ladies Amateur Open.
Her performance at Watermill, where she carded rounds of 72 and 69, was particularly noteworthy given that she was still suffering the effects of jet-lag, having just returned from the Dutch International Junior Open, where she was runner-up.
But it was the brilliance of Navin that caught the eye as he sprinted out of the starting blocks with seven birdies against a solitary bogey in what was the low round of the tournament. Displaying no signs of nerves, he then raced to four-under through eight holes in the second round. From there he could coast home.
Six-time Major champion Faldo, Britain’s most successful golfer, said: “As ever, we’ll have a strong Thai contingent at the next Grand Final. Given that both Navin and Weerawish are familiar with the Laguna Lăng Cô course, they’ll have reason to set out with confidence.”
The 2018-19 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.