Home Sport Golf’s history-making schoolboy from Thailand: Ratchanon ‘TK’ Chantananuwat

Golf’s history-making schoolboy from Thailand: Ratchanon ‘TK’ Chantananuwat



Like most 15-year-olds, Ratchanon “TK” Chantananuwat thinks about faculty, exams, and faculty plans.

However Ratchanon shouldn’t be like most youngsters his age – he’s already a history-making beginner golfer competing towards among the sport’s greatest professionals.

In April – 5 weeks on from his 15th birthday – he made worldwide headlines when he grew to become the youngest male participant to win on a significant Tour, claiming the $750,000 Belief Golf Asian Blended Cup in his native Thailand.

This month, he’s finding out for vital biology and economics exams, a stress he’s needed to juggle with representing his nation on the 31st Southeast Asian (SEA) Video games, in Vietnam.

It’s a balancing act of daunting proportions, however an unfazed Ratchanon has some extent to show.

“It will get a bit bit laborious typically, however I benefit from the problem,” he informed CNN. “I like to do nicely in each and show all of the doubters flawed.

“Apparently for those who’re an athlete, you’ll be able to’t do good at school. I’m attempting to vary that.”

Victory on the Asian Tour marked a brand new high-point within the fledgling profession of one of many sport’s brightest younger stars. Ratchanon has loved a sensational rise since – aged simply 13 years and 4 months – he grew to become the youngest participant to make the reduce within the historical past of the All Thailand Golf Tour, in August 2020.

And extremely, he got here agonizingly near successful an Asian Tour occasion even sooner, ending third in his first worldwide professional occasion on the Singapore Worldwide in January.

Ratchanon’s {golfing} origin story reads like a comic book guide. Having begun enjoying with plastic golf equipment and balls on the age of three, TK – a nickname twinning his mum or dad’s initials – completed final in his first match at 4 years outdated.

“I noticed the child who acquired the trophy and I acquired actually, actually jealous,” Ratchanon recollects. “I didn’t know why I didn’t get one, so I used to be actually upset. Then my dad needed to clarify to me how he received, so he acquired the trophy.”

And so following a month of intense coaching below the tutelage of a equally aggressive, golf-loving father, he acquired his fingers on the trophy on the subsequent try.

At his first Junior World occasion a yr later, motivational messages have been inscribed on chairs at every tee. “Winners by no means give up and quitters by no means win,” learn one, a motto that exemplifies Ratchanon’s mentality and work ethic.

His father acts as his caddie in addition to a 3rd coach, placing in additional hours along with his son to construct upon classes from two different coaches. On days with out faculty, an already intensive follow regime ramps up one other degree, the teen spending wherever between seven and 9 hours on the course honing his craft.

Warned towards exhaustion, Ratchanon has began to take off the occasional half day – spending the time on tutoring, physiotherapy or health – however shrugs off any suggestion of burnout.

“I don’t see it occurring. I like golf. I like working towards,” Ratchanon mentioned.

“Sure, it’s laborious – it hurts and it takes a whole lot of self-discipline, however even simply two months of tremendous laborious work simply to get that one good shot or only a good outcome, I believe it pays off for me.”

And who higher to supervise Ratchanon’s ascent than compatriot Thongchai Jaidee, an Asian Tour legend with 20 skilled wins to his identify. The 52-year-old icon has helped the teen with numerous elements of his sport since their first assembly in 2019.

When Ratchanon needed to be taught his hero’s spinning chip, the pair spent the following three weeks working towards the approach for six hours a day.

“He’s been serving to me a lot with my sport. He’s a terrific man,” Ratchanon mentioned. “I believe he simply enjoys serving to creating Thai golfers for the way forward for Thai golf.”

Jaidee during the Chubb Classic at Florida's Tiburon Golf Club in February.

Thongchai has additionally helped mould the psychological facet of the teenager’s sport, serving to him implement a routine to beat dips in efficiency below strain. Now, Ratchanon has a way to make use of in massive moments: decelerate, take a sip of water, and swing “with out hesitation.”

Requested concerning the strain of the “teen prodigy” tag and rubbing shoulders with the game’s elite, the 15-year-old merely replies, “I get pleasure from it.”

“I’m not feeling pressured … I’m not afraid of enjoying with good individuals,” he mentioned.

“Nobody’s actually pushed it on me and I’m very lucky that I’ve a whole lot of good individuals round me who will assist assist me and maintain me in line.”

It’s an angle serving to Ratchanon to take issues one step at a time. Eager to not rush the leap to the skilled sport, he’s laser-focused on ending faculty with a flourish.

RELATED: Patty Tavatanakit: The golfer who admits it’s ‘odd’ to suppose she’s a significant winner

Ratchanon is already dreaming of finding out physics at a school within the US, sustaining his golf balancing act on the facet. He’s eager to comply with the examples set by Colin Morikawa and Thailand’s Patty Tavatanakit, who graduated from the College of California, Berkeley, and UCLA respectively earlier than tasting main glory.

“I’ve seen a whole lot of Thai gamers flip professional early, however now I believe lots of people know that going to varsity is price their whereas,” he mentioned.

“If we flip professional, that is our life. We are able to’t actually flip again.”

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