- SEA Games 31
- 8 tháng trước
At the upcoming 31st SEA Games, in addition to the athletes of the host country, the name that gains the most attention is Ratchanon Chantananuwat. The Thai rising star is currently ranked 6th on the World Amateur Ranking (WAGR) and is the youngest golfer on the Asian Tour to claim the Trust Golf Asian Mixed Cup.
In his in-depth exclusive interview with Golfnews, the number 1 young talent of Southeast Asia at the moment shared about his latest victory and his goal for the upcoming Sea Games 31.
Hello Ratchanon Chantananuwat. Could you introduce yourself and say hello to golf fans in Vietnam?
Hi. I’m TK Ratchanon Chantananuwat. I am 15 years old and it’s my pleasure to play in Vietnam.
To begin with, congratulations on your win at Trust Golf Asian Mixed Cup, and to become the youngest male golfer on Asian Tour. What do you think about your victory?
I'm really proud. I have played a lot of tournaments on the Asian Tour, Thailand Tour and I came very close to winning. So when I finally got there, it was a big moment of accomplishment.
What did you think about the moment of raising the trophy at Trust Golf Asian Mixed Cup?
That’s definitely amazing for me. But to be honest, it’s really unreal because it’s something I daydreamt every single day to hold the trophy or be the single person on top. But when I finally got here, I just felt weird. There's so much pressure that I could barely control myself hitting the last couple of shots.
At recent tournaments, especially Saudi International, you have played with world-famous golfers like Paul Casey or Lee Westwood. This is a precious opportunity, especially for Asian golfers. What have you learned from them?
There are two things that I learned from playing with the top golfers in the world. One is that I saw how they played, Cameron Smith or Joaquin Niemann. I learned a lot of shots, and I saw how good they were at making birdies from no matter where they were: the fairway, the rough, the bunker. They’re really good at that. Besides that, they tried to make every single put no matter if it was 15 or 20 feet.
I got some really good advice from Paul Casey and they actually helped me win that week. While I was playing with him, he said I was hitting the ball a little bit too low. If I was to play on tougher course playing condition, it would be hard. So I came back, I practiced on that, I tried to complete my swing, I tried to hit higher rather than lower and I’d never been better.
Winning the Trust Golf Asian Mixed Cup makes you a phenomenon all over the world. How do you feel when you suddenly become famous? Do you feel pressured about that?
I think I like it. I appreciate every single fan coming up saying congrats or asking for photos or signatures. I think the most important thing is it motivates me when I know people are rooting for me. Now I'm playing for the country for the first time. I’m playing for something bigger outside of myself. It motivates me to practice golf, work out, run, and everything.
What fate brought you to this sport?
I started to golf when I was 3 years old. At the time, my parents, especially my dad, was a big fan of golf. He often took me to the range and started training me with plastic sticks. Then my dad brought me to the first tournament but I lost and even finished last out of 3 people. I got really upset because I wanted to win the trophy so I worked really hard for the next tournament and I won. Then I started loving it and it kept going on until today.
Does the Thai Golf Association facilitate you in practicing as well as attending tournaments?
In the past, Thailand Golf Association facilitated my going to the US to play on Junior Golf Tours and it helps me a lot in improving my skills. However, at the moment, when playing Asian Tour tournaments or overseas events, I have to cover my expenses as a professional golfer.
What are your goals for the next 3-5 years?
My biggest goal is to play in the 2024 Olympics. To do so, I must be one of the Top 2 Thai players on OWGR. I'm fifth on the Thai ranking right now. I think it's possible for me but it's gonna really tough because the top 4 are so good and all my score commitments make it hard for me to travel to play in the big events in the US or Europe. By the way, it’s my number 1 goal right now.
What does being a member of the Thai golf team attending the 31st SEA Games mean to you?
It’s very exciting to be a part of the Team. It was a couple of months ago when TGA told me that I would be allowed to play Sea Games, which motivates me a lot because this is the first time I’m playing as a part of a team and playing for something bigger than myself. It inspires me to practice and I’ve been looking for to the official day of the competition.
How did you prepare for SEA Games 31?
Before coming to the course, I heard that it’s pretty tight, it’s not so far so I have to work on the driving accuracy. In addition, I am practicing every single component of my game.
What do you think about Dam Vac golf course?
I’ve only played one round here. I think it is a great course with great design. It’s a short course and pretty tight. The rough, to be honest, is my absolute weakness. The rough here is pretty thick and soft so I can’t explode it and I can’t hit it clean either. Therefore I have to put in a lot of work with chipping in the next couple of days.
What do you think is the biggest challenge that Dam Vac golf course brings to athletes?
The rough and bunkers. Driving accuracy is never my problem, but it is pretty tight then if the ball is missed in the rough, especially around the greens, it would be tough for me. Besides, the greens are really small so I think whoever chips best has a big advantage.
At the 31st SEA Games, the Thai set an ambition to win all 4 gold medals in golf, and you are considered the biggest hope to accomplish this goal. Does this make you feel pressured and what are your goals for the tournament?
I wouldn’t say I’m almost likely to win. I think I do know that there are a lot of expectations because of how I won and everything. But I’m trying not to pressure myself. I just want to be a part of the team, helping in and out of the course. Right now, all I’m thinking about is trying to enjoy myself because this is the first time I’m playing team golf, it’s not just for me anymore, this is for the country.
Could you give some pieces of advice for young Vietnamese who want to become professional golfers?
For young golf lovers, I want to say that anyone can become a professional golfer if you practice hard enough. I didn’t start from Asian Tour, I started from nowhere, so you just need to practice hard with quality to accomplish your goals.
Thank you Ratchanon, wish you success in the upcoming SEA Games 31.