Golf: 14-year-old Thai prodigy Ratchanon joins the field at SMBC Singapore Open

Ratchanon Chantananuwat said he was excited to compete in Singapore. PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE - Thai 14-year-old golf prodigy Ratchanon Chantananuwat will compete in a professional event outside his country for the first time after organisers on Friday (Jan 7) confirmed his participation in this month's Singapore International and SMBC Singapore Open.

The US$1 million (S$1.37 million) Singapore International will be held at Tanah Merah Country Club (TMCC) from Jan 13-16, followed by Singapore's national Open, which offers US$1.25 million in prize money, at Sentosa Golf Club from Jan 20-23.

Ratchanon will be hoping to show what he is made of in the Republic during the two tournaments, following up from where he left off last year.

In the Phuket Series last November and December, which marked the restart of the Asian Tour following a 20-month hiatus caused by Covid-19, he upstaged the field at the Blue Canyon Championship by closing with a 65 to finish 12 under and tie for 15th, before finishing joint-30th at the Laguna Phuket Championship.

Ratchanon, who attends Shrewsbury International School in Bangkok, also came close to winning on the All Thailand Golf Tour. He was second in the Singha Laguna Phuket Open, joint-third in the Singha Thailand Masters and joint-fifth in the Singha All Thailand Championship.

Ratchanon said he was excited to compete in Singapore.

He said: "I'm really happy with how 2021 turned out. Yes, I could have won but I'm happy with how I managed myself while in contention and putting myself in contention in the first place.

"I think I've done pretty good for the past tournaments. I'm hitting it further and my ball striking is a bit better. Overall, I've improved a bit in every component as a player so I'm happy with how I played last year."

The rising star is also grateful for the support he has received from many of his senior compatriots.

He said: "I'm a really lucky kid that I've got the experience from playing with a lot of good players like Prom Meesawat and Thongchai Jaidee.

"The advice I've taken from most of them is to have fun out there. I'm still an amateur and it's going to be my first time playing outside of the country, so I won't pressure myself too much.

"My golfing idol is Thongchai. I'm lucky I got to practise with him and experience golf with him. He's not just a great player who has won multiple times on the Asian Tour, he's also a really nice guy and he definitely tries to share what he has with me, and I think I'm really lucky with that and it's really very valuable."

This year's Singapore Open Amateur champion Ryan Ang and fellow national squad players Justin Kuk and Brandon Han will be the other leading amateurs competing in the SMBC Singapore Open.

The Singapore International and the SMBC Singapore Open are the 2020-21 season-ending events on the Asian Tour.

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