Ratchanon, Thailand’s teenage golf sensation, finally achieved the impossible today 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. The 15-year-old amateur –– fired a seven-under-par 65 to finish on 20 under and beat Korean Joohyung Kim by two shots at Siam Country Club’s Waterside Course. Kim, aged 19, returned a 64 while American lefthander Paul Peterson and Bio Kim from Korea ended third one stroke behind after firing 68 and 69 respectively.
Ratchanon at 15 years old and 37 days improved upon the previous best youngest winner mark set by Japan’s Ryo Ishikawa, who was 15 years and eight months when won the Japan Tour’s 2007 Munsingwear Open KSB Cup. And on the Asian Tour Thailand’s Chinnarat Phadungsil had been the previous youngest champion, having claimed the 2005 Double A International Open when he was 17 years and five days old.
In one of the most captivating and historic finishes to an Asian Tour event, a whole host of players were in contention on the back nine. But Ratchanon, playing in the penultimate group, made the decisive move when he birdied 14 and 15, for a three-shot lead over the chasing pack.
His cause was also helped when Kim, playing two groups ahead, found water on 17 and made bogey. That appeared to hand victory to Ratchanon but Kim sensationally holed a 15-footer for eagle on the par-five 18th to get to 18 under and give the young Thai golfer a one-shot lead playing the last.
Once again showing maturity beyond his years, Ratchanon split the fairway with his drive, laid up safely short and holed a birdie putt from 12 feet. “I am very excited, but I felt a lot of pressure,” said Ratchanon. “I’ve got to be honest, I got pretty lucky, I had hit two or three terrible drives. I saw that [Kim eagled 10] and was not surprised, he pulls off that stuff all the time. It put pressure on me but I tried not to look at it too much. I definitely have a lot of people to thank.”
The rising star, who studies Shrewsbury International School Bangkok, has no plans to turn professional and will compete in the upcoming SEA Games in Vietnam. He said: “This has been my plan all along. I enjoy going to college and learning everything. I have talked to a lot of players, and they have all said go to college.” He also became the fifth amateur to win on the Asian Tour and first since 2009.
Kim, the reigning Asian Tour Order of Merit champion, had the consolation of receiving the US$135,000 winners’ cheque. “Made a careless mistake on 17 but recovered well with the eagle but let’s face it, TK deserves this. There is no stopping him. But this week has given me a lot of confidence for the season ahead,” said Kim.
Four-time Asian Tour winner John Catlin from the United States returned a 67 to finish in outright fifth, while in a tie for sixth was 17-year-old Chanoknan Angurasaranee from Thailand.
The US$750,000 tournament marked the first time the Asian Tour have staged a mixed event, as it is being jointly sanctioned with the Ladies European Tour (LET). Competitors move to the Trust Golf Asian Mixed Stableford Challenge next week, to be played at the same venue and boasts the same prizemoney. The inaugural tournament will use the Modified Stableford scoring format.
About Trust Golf
An incredibly successful enterprise in Thailand, Trust Golf advocates utilising innovation and technology as it aims to develop the next generation of Thai golf professionals. Employing technology, education with a focus on mental and physical health, founder Dr. Prin Singhanart has devised a programme that aims to support Thailand’s next generation of golfers through to the professional ranks.
Trust Golf supports all aspects of the game, including the Trust Golf Tour, juniors, players and caddies, with ambitious plans to open the first Trust University in Thailand to further the education of Thailand’s golfers with the intention to grow their offering around the world. With technology at the heart of Trust Golf’s philosophy, the LET and Asian Tour mixed Strokeplay and Stableford events will allow Dr. Prin to share her philosophy and vision for Trust Golf globally, as well giving her students the chance to be part of something bigger with the partnership offering the opportunity for her elite students to gain a place in the star-studded tournament fields.
About the Ladies European Tours (LET)
The LET inspires women and girls to pursue their passion and realise their potential through the game of golf. At our core, we aim to build and deliver an extensive competitive schedule of events to enable our strong, energetic, proud, and confident players to compete at the highest level, pursue their dreams and lead by example.
Our diverse and multicultural membership of 362 professional golfers represents as many as 36 countries. We are a global tour with roots in Europe. We aim to entertain and excite, but also to enhance health and quality of life, as a responsible, committed and respectful partner.
Inspiring – our players are inspiring role models to follow and encourage others to pursue their own dreams.
Passionate – we are driven by a passion to perform to our full potential and get better every day. It’s not just about the money or the glory, but a true love for the game.
Committed – we are fiercely committed to continuous improvement and recognise the grit that it takes to achieve long-term goals.
2022 marks the 44th season of golf tournaments since the professional tour was founded in 1978 and the third edition of the Race to Costa Del Sol. This year’s schedule includes 33 events in 21 different countries and a record-breaking prize fund of €24.5 million.
The LET Access Series is the official development tour of the LET, formed to give players an opportunity to compete and progress onto the LET and achieve their dreams in professional golf.
About the Asian Tour
As the official sanctioning body for professional golf in Asia, the Asian Tour leads the development of professional golf across the region, enhancing the careers of its members while maintaining a commitment to the integrity of the game. The Asian Tour, through its membership of the International Federation of PGA Tours, is the only recognised pan-Asian professional golf tour in Asia. The Tour is officially recognised by the Official World Golf Ranking and provides its events with valuable ranking points for participants to be recognised on the world stage.
It is also an affiliate of The R&A. Tour Partners include Rolex (Timekeeper), Habitat for Humanity (Sustainable Development Partner), Titleist (Web Partner) and FootJoy (Tour Supplier). The corporate headquarters of the Asian Tour is based in Sentosa, which is the home of Asian Golf while Sentosa Golf Club is part of an exclusive network of properties under the Asian Tour Destinations. The Tour also has an office in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.