Bethpage, New York, May 19: Rising star Jazz Janewattananond of Thailand continued to exceed his own expectations as he signed for a three-under-par 67 to move into a share of second place following the penultimate round of the PGA Championship on Saturday.
The 23-year-old Jazz, a three-time Asian Tour winner, fired five birdies against two bogeys to trail leader Brooks Koepka by seven shots with a three-day total of five-under-par 205 at the Bethpage Black course.
Jazz, who thought he would struggle to break 80 after seeing the course on Monday, surprised himself by capping three rounds no worse than par in his debut appearance at the PGA Championship, which is also his second Major tournament.
“It was raining when I arrived here on Monday and it was raining on Tuesday as well. The course was playing so tough because the rough was so long. I was having a nightmare. How am I going to play this golf course? I’m not going to break 80. But this (to move into a share of second place) has exceeded my expectations already,” said Jazz.
Jazz, placed 72nd on the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) and second on the Asian Tour Habitat for Humanity Standings, got off to a fast start with three birdies in his first six holes before curling in a tricky 13-foot birdie putt on the 10th.
Despite dropping two shots on 14 and 17, Jazz recovered brilliantly with a closing birdie on the par-four 18th, where he found the green in two before rolling in a nine-footer.
“This is my first time on the East Coast, and it’s next level. It’s so different. I love it. People keep shouting love you. They love me here,” added Jazz, who got into contention with Jack Miller, a frozen foods manager at a local grocery store, on his bag.
Jazz became the youngest player to make the halfway cut on the Asian Tour when he was still an amateur at the age of 14. He lost his Asian Tour card for the first time in his career after finishing outside of top-60 on the Order of Merit in 2016.
The young Thai, however, went for a two-week stint as a monk when he turned 21 years old that December and returned to claim his first Asian Tour victory in Bangladesh two months later. Jazz has added two more victories since and made his Major debut at The Open last July.
Jazz, who will play alongside American Luke List in the second last group on Sunday, is expected to break into the top-50 in the world if he finishes fourth or better at the PGA Championship. A solo fifth place finish will get him close.
Bethpage, New York, May 18: Thailand’s Jazz Janewattananond continued his remarkable debut at the PGA Championship by signing for a second round two-under-par 68 to take a share of 10th place on Friday.
Jazz, who is playing on a special exemption at the year’s second Major, showed no signs of nerve as he took on the world’s best players at the demanding Bethpage Black course.
After opening with a 70, the three-time Asian Tour winner, resumed his charge by marking his card with three birdies and a bogey for a two-day total of two-under-par 138, 10 shots back of American history-maker, Brooks Koepka, who recorded the lowest 36-hole score in a Major championship after he signed for a 65.
“I didn’t feel any pressure on the golf course. I love it (playing here). It’s my first time playing in such a crowd and hearing them shout my name. I don’t know how to react to it. They give me some really funny names but I try not to remember it,”said Jazz.
While he may only be playing at Bethpage Black for the first time, Jazz is already putting his limited knowledge of the course to good use.
“If you’re in the rough here, you just got to take your medicine. You’ve to try to get it back to the fairways with a short iron. You have to be patient and try your best not to get a bogey. That’s all I need to know,” said Jazz.
American Kurt Kitayama, a one-time Asian Tour winner, safely made it into the weekend rounds after returning with a 68 to take a share of 47th place.
Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat, together with 2014 Asian Tour Order of Merit champion, David Lipsky and South Africa’s Justin Harding are also through after they made the cut which was set at four-over par.
South Africa’s Shaun Norris meanwhile made the early exit after posting rounds of 73 and 74.
ROUND ONE REPORT
Bethpage, New York, May 17: Thailand’s Jazz Janewattananond opened his campaign with an even-par 70 to trail defending champion American Brooks Koepka by seven shots in the first round of the PGA Championship on Thursday.
The 23-year-old Thai, playing on a special exemption on the PGA TOUR this week, took a share of 17th place along with American David Lipsky, who matched Jazz’s opening day efforts at the challenging Bethpage Black course.
Jazz, a three-time Asian Tour winner, traded three birdies against as many bogeys to finish two shots ahead of reigning Masters champion Tiger Woods (72) who sits in tied-51st.
Koepka, who is looking to become first player to successfully defend a PGA title since Woods did in 2007, set the course record with his spectacular bogey-free round of 63.
South Africa’s Shaun Norris posted a 73 to take tied-74th place while countryman Justin Harding sits in tied-91st alongside American Kurt Kitayama on matching 74s.
Thailand’s number one player Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who is making his sixth appearance at this week’s Major, struggled to a 76 to take tied-123rd place.
Sentosa, Singapore, May 15: Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat will lead the Asian Tour charge at the PGA Championship as he hits top form in time for the year’s second Major which starts on Thursday.
Kiradech, the first Thai to earn his full playing rights on the PGA TOUR, is coming off a tied-fifth result at the AT&T Byron Nelson last week which moved him up two rungs from 43 to 41 place on the Official World Golf Rankings (OWGR). He will make his sixth appearance at this week’s Major.
South Africa’s Justin Harding, who enjoyed his first top-10 finish on the PGA TOUR on Sunday, will also feature alongside Kiradech at the challenging Bethpage Black course in Long Island, New York.
Debutants Jazz Janewattananond of Thailand, Shaun Norris of South Africa and Americans Kurt Kitayama and David Lipsky will also be part of the new wave of contenders hoping to hoist the Wanamaker trophy at the 101st staging of the prestigious event.
Ranked first in the field in putting statistics last week and third overall on the PGA TOUR with a 0.974 strokes gained putting average, the 29-year-old Thai proved his game was on song with his hot putter despite battling a knee injury he incurred at The Masters last month.
“I just kept seeing the ball roll to the line and matched the speed. Heading into the PGA Championship week, I will just keep doing what I am doing and hopefully it will be my week,” said Kiradech.
The burly Thai claimed his third Asian Tour victory in February last year which ended a three-year title drought on Tour. He had a stellar 2018 with two top-five finishes at the World Golf Championships and a career-best Major result of 15th place at the U.S. Open.
Hoping to improve on his tied-25th finish at the PGA Championship in 2013, which was also the first-ever cut he made in a Major, Kiradech will adopt the same carefree mindset which led him to his third top-five finish of the 2018/19 PGA TOUR season.
“When I played last week, I just tried to enjoy the game and get the feel of the ball. It was quite a surprise to me to get a good result. I will try and have the same game plan and play freely. It is such a great feeling and I just want to enjoy every step,” added Kiradech.
After taking a week off to prepare for his first appearance at the PGA Championship, Jazz, who is currently 72nd on the OWGR, will have his sights set on a top-10 finish to propel him into the top-60 in order to qualify for the U.S. Open Championship by the cut-off date.
The 23-year-old Thai already has an impressive season with one victory and four top-10 finishes in the bag and he will be hoping to carry over that momentum into this week.
“My goal before this week was to get my momentum going in time for the PGA Championship because I haven’t been playing that well lately and I feel I can do better.
“I missed the cut at the Hero Indian Open by one shot but I made the cut at the Volvo China Open and I need momentum like that to be on form,” added Jazz.
The PGA Championship is the second of four annual Major events on the golfing calendar and this year would be the first time since 1949 that the event is held in May.
With lucrative events such as World Golf Championships (WGC) and Majors looming, the Official World Golf Rankings (OWGR) becomes all important. Here we follow the Asian Tour players that are making a charge up the rankings and their quest to play their way into these events via the OWGR.
Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat fired a final round seven-under-par 64 to finish tied-fifth at the AT&T Byron Nelson on the PGA TOUR to gain two places in the rankings and move to number 41 from 43 on the OWGR. Kiradech is already eligible for all the above events.
By Olle Nordberg, Former Asian Tour and European Tour professional.
Last week’s Asia-Pacific Diamond Cup in Chiba prefecture, Japan proved to be a very tough scoring week, with only five players finishing the week in red figures. In the end it was Japan’s Yosuke Asaji who came out tops, holding off the challenge from Micah Lauren Shin and local amateur Ren Yonezawa to win by one shot with his winning total of three-under-par 281.
It was Asaji’s first win on Tour and the 15 OWGR points collected means he rises to number 301 from 637 in last week’s rankings.
Joint runner-up Shin had his best finish since winning the Resorts World Manila Masters in 2017 and climbs to number 362 from 552 the previous week. Also, most importantly locking up his 2020 Asian Tour playing rights by picking up US$147,187 in the process.
Of the players in position to gain access to the upcoming Majors via the OWGR, Justin Harding, Jazz Janewattananond, Shaun Norris, Kurt Kitayama and David Lipsky all received Special Invitations for this week’s PGA Championship at Bethpage Black in New York.
Playing in the AT&T Byron Nelson Harding again produced some of the Sunday magic he has become known for- shooting a final round six-under-par 65 to finish tied-10th. Harding’s first top-10 on the PGA TOUR gains him three spots in the rankings to 42 from 45, and he should now have secured an exemption to the US Open Championship at Pebble Beach Golf Links June 13 to 16.
The qualifying criteria for this is to be inside the top-60 on the OWGR by either May 20 or June 10, the two cut-off dates available.
Being a top-50 OWGR player comes with a lot of perks. Harding will get an exemption into next week’s Charles Schwab Challenge in Ft. Worth, Texas, and if he can remain in the top-50 at the conclusion of the PGA Championship, he will also qualify for the following week’s Memorial Tournament in Dublin, Ohio.
Jazz did not play in Japan and slides two spots in the rankings to number 72 from 70 last week after taking the week off to prepare for this week’s PGA Championship
This week in New York will be very important if Jazz is going to play his way into the US Open via the OWGR with the high number of points on offer. A top-10 finish could be enough to vault Jazz inside the mark for the first cut-off date.
Currently ranked number 99 on the OWGR thanks to a very strong 2018 season that included a win in the Heiwa PGM Championship on the Japan Tour, and 11 other top 10s around the world.
This week will be Norris’s first start in a Major on US soil, having played The Open Championship twice in 2017 and 2018 finishing tied-62nd and tied-61st respectively.
By not playing last week to get ready for the PGA Championship, Kitayama drops two places on the list from 108 to 110. This will be the first career Major Championship appearance by the winner of the 2018 AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open and the 2019 Oman Open.
This will be Lipsky’s third Major Championship start, having played in The Open Championship twice in 2015 and 2017. He did not play last week and lost a few spots in the OWGR, sliding to 118 from 115 the previous week. Lipsky has been playing very good golf since his win at the Alfred Dunhill Championship last December, with two recent top-five’s and a tied-10th in the WGC-Mexico Championship earlier in February.
Gurgaon, India, May 14: The highly acclaimed US$400,000 Panasonic Open India will move to the Classic Golf and Country Club in Gurgaon when it returns to the Asian Tour for its ninth consecutive edition from November 14 to 17.
Dubbed as one of India’s finest courses, the Classic Golf and Country Club is the first Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course in South Asia and it comprises of an 18-Hole Signature Championship Course as well as a 9-Hole Signature Canyon Course.
It also witnessed a slice of history in 2009 when Thailand’s Chapchai Nirat recorded the world’s lowest 72-hole score with a 32-under-par to win the third of his four Asian Tour titles then.
The then 25-year-old Thai had opened his campaign with two consecutive 10-under-par 62s before signing for a third-round 65 and a final-round 67, thanks to a closing birdie which helped him claim a commanding 11-shot victory.
Prior to hosting its first Asian Tour event in 2009, the Classic Golf and Country Club was home to the prestigious Indian Open in 2000 and 2001. Over the past few years, it has also played host to several tournaments on the Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI).
The Panasonic Open India, staged previously at the Delhi Golf Club, celebrated worthy champions in Anirban Lahiri (2011), Digvijay Singh (2012), Australian Wade Ormsby (2013), S.S.P. Chawrasia (2014), Chiragh Kumar (2015), Mukesh Kumar (2016), Shiv Kapur (2017) and Khalin Joshi (2018).
It is also known to have jumpstarted the careers for many leading Indian players such as Lahiri. Since winning the inaugural edition, Lahiri has gone on to win six more titles and was crowned the 2014 Asian Tour Order of Merit champion. He is currently plying his trade on the PGA Tour.
Cho Minn Thant, Asian Tour Chief Operating Officer, said: “We are very excited to return to The Classic Golf and Country Club for the ninth staging of the Panasonic Open India this year. It has been 10 long years since we last held an event on that course and to head back to a course where our member Chapchai set a world record is really exciting news for us.
“Since its inauguration in 2011, the Panasonic Open India has produced many worthy champions over the years. We hope that we can continue to unearth new talents through this event,” Cho added.
B.Hariharan , Managing Director of Landbase India Limited which owns and operates the Signature Golf Course, said: “We are delighted that the prestigious Panasonic Open India is being staged at the Classic Golf and Country Club and we look forward to working with key stakeholders to make this a memorable event.”
Co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour and the Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI), the tournament continues to form part of the unique Panasonic Swing, an aggregate point race that spans five events where players have an opportunity to shoot for a share of the lucrative bonus pool.
India’s Shiv Kapur topped the inaugural 2017/18 Panasonic Swing ranking with total points of 2922.90, thanks largely to his victory at the Panasonic Open India, which was his first Asian Tour victory on home soil and second win in 2017.
Kapur went on to win his fourth Asian Tour title at the Royal Cup in Thailand one month later and became the first and only player to win three times on the region’s premier Tour that season.
The Panasonic Open India has been dominated by Indians since its inception. Australian Wade Ormsby remains the only non-Indian player to have won the tournament when he emerged victorious in 2013.
May 14: Here’s what Yosuke Asaji had in his bag when he won the Asia-Pacific Diamond Cup.
Driver: ON OFF Power Trench 10* Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD DI 7 X
Fairway1: ON OFF Fairway ARMS 15* Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD DI 7 X
Fairway2: ON OFF Fairway ARMS 18* Shaft: Fujikura Speeder TR 757 X
Hb1: ON OFF Fairway WINGS 21* Shaft: Nippon Shaft Modus 3
Hb2: ON OFF Fairway WINGS 24* Shaft: Nippon Shaft Modus 3
Irons: ON OFF Forged (5-9) Shaft: Nippon Shaft Modus 3 125 X
Wedge1: ON OFF Forged 48*
Wedge2: ON OFF Forged 52*
Wedge3: Juice Prototype 58*
Putter: Odyssey Mystery Milled SIX M 188.8.131.52
Ball: Titleist Pro V1 (2019)
Cap: ON OFF
Bag: ON OFF
Note: No 3-4 Iron
Sentosa, Singapore, May 13: Korean-American Micah Lauren Shin was thrilled to rediscover his best form as he broke into the top-10 on the latest Asian Tour Habitat for Humanity Standings after capping a noteworthy joint runner-up finish at the Asia-Pacific Diamond Cup on Sunday.
Shin, who claimed his Asian Tour breakthrough in 2017, had endured an uncharacteristic run of poor form prior to his fine showing at the Sobu Country Club in Japan. He missed the halfway cut twice and has never finish inside top-60 in five starts since the start of the season.
With his father on the bag last week, Shin found himself leading by two shots at the halfway stage after opening with rounds of 71 and 67 at the JPY150,000,000 (US$1,338,000) event, sanctioned by the Asian Tour and the Japan Golf Tour Organisation (JGTO).
A pair of closing 72s, however, saw the 22-year-old Shin settle for a share of second place alongside local amateur Ren Yonezawa on two-under-par 282, just a shot behind Yosuke Asaji of Japan, who closed with a 72 to claim his first professional title.
Despite missing out on his second Tour victory, Shin took pride in his confidence-boosting finish which marked his best result since his victory in Manila in 2017 and propelled him to a career-high seventh place on the Merit rankings, thanks to a current haul of US$162,231.
“It’s disappointing to miss out on the win of course but I really tired my best to catch him (Asaji). I haven’t been playing well lately and I needed a result like this to boost my confidence,” said Shin, who has been based in Davao City, Philippines with his father for more than half a decade.
“But I know I have the game to do well so hopefully, this is the start of better things to come,” added the young talent, who came through the Qualifying School in 2017 before going on to claim his breakthrough win at the Resorts World Manila Masters the same year.
Shin’s maiden win in the Philippines held extra significance as it came after the then 20-year-old called a ruling on himself on the opening hole of the final round and was penalised two strokes for having 15 clubs in the bag.
His two-year winner’s exemption ends this season but Shin has virtually retained his card for 2020 as he is likely to finish inside top-60 on the final Order of Merit following his tied-second finish in Japan.
Zimbabwean Scott Vincent recorded his second top-10 result this season after battling to a 72 to finish three shots back in tied-sixth place. He would move up a spot to eighth position on the money list, where Australian Scott Hend continues to lead on US$527,530.
Thailand’s rising star Jazz Janewattananond, who will be making his debut appearance at the PGA Championship this week, remains in second place with US$471,295 while Korea’s Taehee Lee took third on US$266,798.
Top-20 players on the Habitat for Humanity Standings
Pos Player Order of Merit (US$)
1. Scott HEND (AUS) $527,530.94
2. Jazz JANEWATTANANOND (THA) $471,295.40
3. Taehee LEE (KOR) $266,798.00
4. Masahiro KAWAMURA (JPN) $249,266.67
5. Zach MURRAY (AUS) $197,444.91
6. Johannes VEERMAN (USA) $167,216.73
7. Micah Lauren SHIN (USA) $162,231.17
8. Scott VINCENT (ZWE) $142,062.24
9. David LIPSKY (USA) $137,309.79
10. Janne KASKE (FIN) $106,719.00
11. Prom MEESAWAT (THA) $91,980.10
12. Panuphol PITTAYARAT (THA) $87,509.11
13. Sadom KAEWKANJANA (THA) $81,777.54
14. Berry HENSON (USA) $78,774.09
15. S. CHIKKARANGAPPA (IND) $77,128.12
16. Yuta IKEDA (JPN) $74,749.19
17. Ajeetesh SANDHU (IND) $70,801.84
18. Jarin TODD (USA) $68,128.75
19. Paul PETERSON (USA) $67,402.25
20. Dongkyu JANG (KOR) $62,607.25
For full listing, please click here.
Chiba prefecture, Japan, May 13: Here are five takeaways from the Asia-Pacific Diamond Cup where Japan’s Yosuke Asaji claimed his first professional win on Sunday.
Dallas, Texas, May 13: Thai star Kiradech Aphibarnrat bounced back from a recent knee injury by closing with a flawless seven-under-par 64 to finish in a share of fifth place at the PGA TOUR’s AT&T Byron Nelson on Sunday.
Kiradech, the first player from Thailand to earn full playing rights on the PGA Tour, marked his third top-five finish of the 2018/19 season after compiling a four-day total of 17-under-par 267, four shots back of winner Sung Kang of Korea, at the Trinity Forest Golf Club.
The 29-year-old Thai, who came in tied-third at the World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship in February, had unfortunately tore his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) when he made his third appearance at The Masters last month.
South African Justin Harding, who won twice on both the Asian Tour and Sunshine Tour in 2018 before securing his maiden European Tour title two months ago, recorded his first top-10 finish on the PGA TOUR after signing for a 65 to grab a share of 10th place on 268.
It was only his 10th career start on the PGA Tour. The 33-year-old Harding stole the show in his dream Masters debut last month where he finished tied-12th to earn a return invite to Augusta National in 2020.
Kiradech and Harding would move to 41st and 42nd place respectively on the latest Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR), courtesy of their strong outings in Texas last week.