Jazz happy to be back home and competing

Jazz happy to be back home and competing

Thai star seeks Asia's Order of Merit crown

Jazz Janewattananond plays in the pro-am event yesterday ahead of the Blue Canyon Phuket Championship. asian tour PR
Jazz Janewattananond plays in the pro-am event yesterday ahead of the Blue Canyon Phuket Championship. asian tour PR

Phuket: Jazz Janewattananond, with the exception of two quick pitstops when he was in quarantine, is finally back home in Thailand, having been away for nearly two years. And nothing could make the Thai happier than competing in the Asian Tour Phuket Series.

"It's really good to be back in Thailand," Jazz said yesterday at Blue Canyon Country Club where he will be competing in the US$1 million Blue Canyon Phuket Championship, which tees off today.

"I haven't been here for a while to spend proper time with my family and friends. This has been a real nice change. I am very happy to be back on home soil. It gave me an opportunity to speak the language with fellow Thais."

Jazz, who flew in from Dubai where he was tied for fourth in the Dubai Championship on the DP World Tour, is hoping to become the first player to successfully defend the Asian Tour Order of Merit crown, having claimed the Merit title in 2019.

This week's event is one of the four tournaments that will bring to a conclusion the 2020-21 season.

"I did a couple of quarantines but didn't spend much time here, just did some things like picking up my passport. Once I finished quarantine, I left straight away. I was in the hotel then left. It's not like I stayed at home or anywhere else," said Jazz, who is currently fifth on the Order of Merit.

The last occasion he spent time in Thailand was before the Dubai Desert Classic last year. "It's been a long road. It's been a tiring two years. I am going to use this time to take a break and recharge. Since I got back to Thailand I spent some quality time with my family, eating food, enjoying the culture and enjoying meeting the people."

He is grouped with Scott Hend of Australia, a 10-time winner on the Asian Tour, and Malaysia's No.1 Gavin Green for the first two days.

Jazz, who celebrates his 26th birthday tomorrow, is a six-time winner on the Asian Tour -- four of which came in 2019.

The Asian Tour Phuket Series events starts with this week's Blue Canyon Phuket Championship and is followed by next week's Laguna Phuket Championship from Dec 2-5.

The last two events of the 2020-2021 season will be held in Singapore in January.

The Blue Canyon Phuket Championship is the Asian Tour's first event after a 19-month hiatus because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Among the title contenders are Jazz, Hend, Green, John Catlin of the US, Wade Ormsby from Australia, India's Shiv Kapur, South Korea's Kim Joo-Hyung and Thai stars Sadom Kaewkanjana, Prom Meesawat and Phachara Khongwatmai.

Ormsby is the current Order of Merit leader, thanks to his victory at the Hong Kong Open in January 2020.

Teenage prodigy

Thailand's latest golf prodigy, 14-year-old Ratchanon Chantananuwat, will make his debut on the Asian Tour at the Blue Canyon Phuket Championship with his "full attention" on golf while carefully balancing a busy schedule of online classes.

"I did some online physics and English classes on Tuesday morning as I played 18 holes on Monday and had to miss a double English session," said the amateur star, who is doing his IGCSE at Shrewsbury International School in Bangkok.

"Obviously the focus should be 50/50 for the most part but at certain times I have to be on one thing or the other depending on what is more important at the time."

He will also play in next week's Laguna Phuket Championship at Laguna Golf Phuket.

"TK", as he is nicknamed, has taken the All Thailand Golf Tour (ATGT) by storm this year, particularly when the Tour visited the same two Phuket venues a few months ago.

He was second in the Laguna Phuket Open at Laguna Golf Phuket and joint fifth in the All Thailand Championship at Blue Canyon.

"This is my first Asian Tour event, I am aware that the players are really good. There are a lot of top players here, so I am just mainly focusing on myself. I have played well at these clubs at the recent ATGT events," said Ratchanon.

"It feels really good to finish as the best amateur six times in a row. I am just trying to go for the big one now."

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