Singapore: Jazz Janewattananond has been crowned the 2019 Asian Tour Order of Merit champion after his lead on the Habitat for Humanity Standings became unassailable.
With Scott Hend, his closest challenger, opting not to tee up at this week’s AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open, the 23-year-old Thai cannot now be overhauled in the money list.
Wins at the SMBC Singapore Open and Kolon Korea Open along with seven other top-10s on the Asian Tour have enabled Jazz to become the fourth Thai to be crowned Asia’s number one, following in the footsteps of Thongchai Jaidee (2001, 2004, 2009), Thaworn Wiratchant (2005, 2012) and Kiradech Aphibarnrat (2013).
“I’m honoured to join the likes of Thongchai, Thaworn and Kiradech as the next player from Thailand to win the Asian Tour Order of Merit. It’s an exclusive group of champions which I’m so proud to be in.
“While it’s not a perfect season this year, as there are times when I thought I could play even better, overall it has been a very good one where I took advantage of my opportunities and made the best of them,” said Jazz, who has risen to a career-high 52nd on the Official World Golf Ranking.
Jazz has been one of the revelations this season with his triumphs in Singapore in January, where he beat a field which included Sergio Garcia and Paul Casey, and Korea in June.
“The win in Singapore was certainly the highlight of the year for me because I won early in the season and that victory broke me into the world’s top-100. It opened doors for me and I took advantage of them,” said Jazz, who also won the second edition of the Panasonic Swing series and enjoyed a standout season in Japan with six top-10 finishes in the Land of the Rising Sun.
In May, Jazz came to global prominence at the PGA Championship where he entered the final round in joint second place.Despite closing with a 77 to end tied-14th, it was the best result by a Thai player at the PGA Championship.
“Playing in the PGA Championship was not only a unique experience but also a memorable one. Playing in front of the large crowds and against the best players in the world is something I’ll never forget,” said Jazz, who went on to make his second consecutive appearance at The 148th Open in July.
Jazz first played his way into the Asian Tour’s history books in 2010 when he became the youngest player to make a half-way cut, at the Asian Tour International in Bangkok at the age of 14 years and 71 days.
But his path towards greatness has not been without struggles and setbacks.
He lost his Asian Tour card for the first time in 2016 but bounced back the following year with his Asian Tour breakthrough victory at the Bashundhara Bangladesh Open.
“Those experiences moulded me into a better player. I spent two weeks in the monastery where I found peace and slowly played my way back. That breakthrough in Bangladesh brought back the self-belief that I can actually play good golf and win tournaments,” said Jazz.
Jazz then saw his fortunes soar with another win on home soil at the Queen’s Cup in 2018.
The benchmark for the Thai has now been raised even higher as he sets out to sing another winning tune in 2020. “I want to get even better and not rest on my laurels. I want to compete in more Majors and make big moves on the world ranking,” said Jazz.