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He was in obscurity a few months ago- but this 15-year-old young gun of Thailand impressed everyone in the golfing fraternity when he achieved the impossible. Thai teenage sensation Ratchanon Chantananuwat scripted history when he claimed the US$750,000 Trust Golf Asian Mixed Cup – becoming the youngest male player to win on one of the game’s major Tours in April 2022.
At the tender age of 15, Ratchanon is breaking new moulds and setting new records. He is the man in the big picture- and he’s enjoying it in his unassuming ways.
A splendid victory on the Asian Tour brought a new wave of success in the fledgling career of one of the sport's best young guns. Ratchanon has seen his success go on a upward trend since aged just 13 years and four months -- he became the youngest player to make the cut in the history of the All Thailand Golf Tour, in August 2020.
And wonderfully, he came heartbreakingly close to winning an Asian Tour event even sooner, finishing third in his first international pro event at the Singapore International in January.
So how did the brightest star of Golf take up the game? Not many know but it’s no less than a fairy tale.
Having begun playing with plastic clubs and balls at the age of three, TK -- a nickname twinning his parent's initials -- finished last in his first tournament at four years old. "I saw the kid who got the trophy and I got really, really jealous," Ratchanon recalls. "I didn't know why I didn't get one, so I was really upset. Then my dad had to explain to me how he won, so he got the trophy."
And so following a month of intense training under the tutelage of a similarly competitive, golf-loving father, he got his hands on the trophy at the next attempt.
At his first Junior World event a year later, motivational messages were inscribed on chairs at each tee. "Winners never quit and quitters never win," read one, a motto that exemplifies Ratchanon's mentality and work ethic. His father acts as his caddie as well as a third coach, putting in extra hours with his son to build upon lessons from two other coaches. On days without school, an already intensive practice regime ramps up another level, the youngster spending anywhere between seven and nine hours on the course honing his craft.
Golf legend Thongchai Jaidee has been a role model to him. The 52-year-old icon has helped the youngster with various aspects of his game since their first meeting in 2019.
In the days to come, it would be interesting to see if the promising new star of Thailand is able to continue with his momentum and carve a niche of his own in the golfing terrain.