Thitiphun turning heads as talent rises from Asia

KUALA LUMPUR : The name may be a tongue-twister for many but Thailand's Thitiphun Chuayprakong looks set to become the latest young star to emerge from the Asian Tour.

Thitiphun Chuayprakong impressed observers at the Thailand Golf Championship.

The 20-year-old impressed many during a gallant run at the star-studded Thailand Golf Championship at Amata Spring Country Club where he finished tied second with reigning Masters champion Bubba Watson on Sunday.

South Africa's Charl Schwartzel, who won the tournament by a massive 11 shots, played the weekend rounds with Thithiphun and liked what he saw from the local lad.

"I can't pronounced his name _ the guy I played with. Thi-ti-phun? He was very good," Schwartzel said. "He hits it very short and playing on this golf course the way he did, it was pretty phenomenal.

"He has such a good short game and a good putting stroke. I was very impressed with what I saw and he managed to grind out a score."

A joint runner-up cheque of US$84,750 has pushed Thitiphun into 21st position on the Asian Tour's Order of Merit.

His previous best finish on Tour was joint third place at last year's Indonesian Masters, where he enjoyed the privilege of playing with eventual champion Lee Westwood, and the Venetian Macau Open in October.

Thitiphun showed few nerves playing in the last group as he thrilled the local galleries with some glorious golf.

He holed out from the bunker on 11 in the final round for an eagle but missed a birdie chance on the last.

"I'm so proud with how I played because I played with one of the best players in the world," Thitiphun said.

"The way he [Schwartzel] handles himself was fantastic.

"I'm happy with my round but slightly disappointed I didn't finish second alone. I'm going to play with more confidence now and this will be an inspiration for me because I want to win."

Watson, who signed off with a superb 65 in his debut at Thailand's most prestigious championship, was also impressed with the new faces on the Asian Tour.

"The talent is so good across the world. It is a global game," Watson said.

"As players, we do not look over and see where the player is from. We just see a good player and try to beat them. It is not really just one. Any given week any player can do what Schwartzel did."

About the author

Writer: Calvin Koh