THAWORN HITS MAGICAL 400TH ASIAN TOUR APPEARANCE AT THE UBS HONG KONG OPEN
Hong Kong, October 21: Thailand’s Thaworn Wiratchant will celebrate a career milestone when he tees up for his 400th Asian Tour appearance at this week’s UBS Hong Kong Open.
The Thai veteran has been a perennial figure on the region’s premier Tour since it was established as a player-led organisation in 2004.
His illustrious career through the years has seen him amassed 18 Tour titles and two prestigious Order of Merit titles in 2005 and 2012.
“I’ve played on the Asian Tour since it was formed, I was among the pioneers and I’ve never left the Tour,” said Thaworn.
Although he will be turning 49 in December, the self-proclaimed ‘Young Boy’ is still hungry for more success, with that desire largely driven by his humble beginnings.
“I was not born into a rich family. I’ve a goal of being the best that I can be and I’ve worked hard towards achieving that. That’s why there is a Thaworn today. Put it simply, I’m ambitious,” said Thaworn.
“It’s like when a kid really wants something badly, he will go all out to get it. I’m just like that kid. I wanted to become number one on the Asian Tour and I made sure I became that,” added Thaworn.
The Thai may possess an unorthodox swing but that has not deterred him from being a master of his craft.
“I’m a hard worker. My swing might not be good but my putts are consistent. I’m also very imaginative when it comes to chipping the ball.
“You’ve to think where the ball will land, run and how it will roll into the hole,” said Thaworn.
China’s Liang Wen-chong, Asian Tour 2007 Order of Merit champion said, “Thaworn has got a funny-looking golf swing but you can see he is one of the most successful golfers on the Asian Tour. He is a very strong golfer, not just with his abilities but also in his mind and heart.”
Thailand’s Boonchu Ruangkit, one of Asia’s greatest ever players and golfing ambassadors, has witnessed Thaworn’s rise from an early age, having taken him under his wings during the formative years of his career.
The 59-year-old veteran, who is a father-figure to many generations of Thai golfers, is pleased Thaworn is now a model of success on the region’s premier Tour.
“I’ve known Thaworn since he was a young boy as he was a ball collector at the army course where I was playing. I am very happy to see him being very successful now on the Asian Tour. I never thought that he would be successful as he was small in size, skinny and had a funny golf swing. His swing was such that his shaft would scrap the back of his neck all the time that it would be bruised. But I guess he has worked on his game a lot, he is one of the hardest workers of the game that I know, and he has reaped the benefits of it,” said Boonchu.
“When I think of Thaworn, I’ll say he’s playing too much golf. I guess that is why he’s the first player to hit 400 events on the Asian Tour. Inside his mind, he’s thinking about golf all the time. Sometimes, I think he’s crazy. But he’s got a very good record and he inspires the other young golfers. Thaworn is always about golf. After a tournament, you’ll see him at the army course in Bangkok, either playing or working on his short game,” added the five-time Asian Tour winner.
India’s Arjun Atwal marveled at Thaworn’s achievements and is delighted with the recognition he deserves.
“He has an impressive career. Most wins on the Asian Tour with 18 titles, what more can you say about him? We started playing on the Asian Tour at the same time back in the 1990s and he’s still got the same golf swing then and he’s still swinging it the same way now.
“His putting stroke has not changed at all and all credit to him for his 400thappearance on the Asian Tour,” said Atwal, who made history by becoming the first Indian golfer to win on the US PGA Tour at the 2010 Wyndham Championship.
Asian Tour chairman Kyi Hla Han also paid tribute to the Thai workhorse and believes he will continue to excel in his role as an elder statesman in the Tour.
“I’ve known Thaworn for a long time, dating back to my playing days and he is an unassuming consummate professional.
“He is now seen as a mentor to the younger generation of Thai players and with his experience and dedication to his game, I’m confident Thaworn will not only continue to lead but also compete at the highest level for a long time,” said Han.
Thailand’s Prom Meesawat echoed Han’s views of Thaworn and credited his compatriot for guiding him along in his career, which has seen him win two Asian Tour titles.
“At 49, Thaworn is still showing to us that he can play good golf at a high level. He is a good model to other golfers to follow in his footsteps. He plays a lot of golf and since I started knowing him, he’s always practising. I guess that is why he is very successful. His best advice to me is to control your emotions when you’re under pressure during a tournament,” said Prom.
The Asian Tour is now home to Thaworn and it is where the Thai will continue to compete in the company of his closest friends and rivals.
“I feel like when I play on the Asian Tour, I’m playing with my family. I know everyone and we’re very close.
When I play elsewhere, I don’t know anyone at all. But on the Asian Tour, everyone greets one another and we speak a bit of each other’s language. Whatever I do, where I go I’m happy playing on the Asian Tour,” said Thaworn.