Hua Hin, Thailand: History-making Ratchanon ‘TK’ Chantananuwat produced another eye-catching performance to retain his Faldo Series Hua Hin title.
A year which began with the Thai prodigy starring at the Nick Faldo-inspired Major Champions Invitational in the United States, ended with a commanding wire-to-wire triumph in the second in a series of three Faldo Series qualifiers staged in conjunction with international schools in Thailand.
Still four months shy of his 14th birthday, Ratchanon was in fine form at Banyan Golf Club, posting a three-round aggregate of 14-under-par 202 to secure a nine-stroke success and enhance his prospects of earning a ticket to the 15th Faldo Series Asia Grand Final, to be hosted by Sir Nick Faldo at Vietnam’s Laguna Lăng Cô in 2021.
Over the course of three days of competition at the Hua Hin venue that’s a Facility Member of the Asian Golf Industry Federation, the two-time World Junior Champion snared one eagle and 20 birdies.
Sir Nick, six-time Major champion and Faldo Series Founder, said: “Congratulations to TK on another fabulous performance. I was impressed with what I saw of him at January’s Major Champions Invitational. Based on his results since then, TK is continuing to improve and clearly has a bright future in the game.”
Ratchanon was selected by Ariya Jutanugarn as a member of her four-strong team at Lookout Mountain Golf Club’s Blue Course in Phoenix, Arizona at January’s Major Champions Invitational, an event created by World Golf Hall of Fame member Sir Nick with a view to providing opportunities to young people through golf and to identify the next generation of champions.
Unfazed by being among the youngest players in the field there, Ratchanon was joint leader among the boys after an opening 68. He eventually placed equal 13th and is already starting to map out a tentative plan for his future. He said: “Golf is what I want to do, but I am focused on completing my school and then my college studies. It’s really important to me.”
Despite disruptions to his travel plans and playing schedule due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Shrewsbury International School Bangkok student Ratchanon also found time in 2020 to become the youngest player to make the cut in the history of the All Thailand Golf Tour.
Aged 13 years, four months and 18 days, Ratchanon held his own against seasoned professionals from the European Tour and Asian Tour to tie for 36th in the Singha Pattaya Open in the second week of August.
“I missed the World Junior Championships (in America) this year, but I’ve already won it twice and will have other chances as I can compete in that until I’m 18. It was good to play another pro tournament in Thailand. I learn a lot from playing and spending time with these top pro players,” said Ratchanon, who improved on that effort in October with a 17th place finish in the Singha Laguna Phuket Open where he was the leading amateur. A fortnight later he triumphed in the Thai Junior Development Tour’s TJDT Invitational.
This year, all three legs of the 2020-21 Faldo Series Asia’s innovative qualifying process in Thailand have been extended to 54 holes, thus ensuring valuable World Amateur Golf Ranking points are allocated to the leading players.
Combined performances of players in those tournaments in Pattaya, Hua Hin and Phuket will be reflected in an Order of Merit from which five age-group category winners will progress to the Faldo Series Asia Grand Final.
The opening event of the Faldo Series Thailand took place at Pattana Golf Resort in Pattaya last month. Following the second leg at Banyan Golf Club, hosted by Shrewsbury International School Bangkok, the series is scheduled to conclude at Laguna Golf Phuket from January 29-31, 2021, hosted by the British International School Phuket.
As well as individual age group categories, international schools teams that are part of the existing International Schools’ Golf Tour (ISGT) are able to win team Order of Merit points towards the ISGT season.
The 2020-21 Faldo Series Asia season is supported by The R&A and endorsed by the Asian Tour and the Asia-Pacific Golf Confederation.