Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship: youngest winner Ratchanon eyes another piece of history
- ‘No Thai player has ever won the title and I want to be the one who does that,’ he says of a tournament that will also be hosted in his country
- Victory in Asian Tour’s Trust Golf Asian Mixed Cup in April made the 15-year-old the youngest to win on a professional tour
Thai teen Ratchanon “TK” Chantananuwat has already made history on the golf course this year, and wants to add another record to his name at the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship in October.
The 15-year-old became the youngest player to win on a professional tour in April, when he won the Asian Tour’s Trust Golf Asian Mixed Cup, and is now focusing on becoming the first player from Thailand to win the amateur event.
He will have plenty of competition though, not least from Hong Kong’s Taichi Kho, who finished second at last year’s event in Dubai, and is also out to be the first golfer from the city to triumph in a tournament that earns the winner a spot at the Masters and The Open Championship next year.
“I am really looking forward to playing my first Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship,” Ratchanon said. “No Thai player has ever won the title and I want to be the one who does that, especially this year when the championship is also being hosted in our country.
“Playing the Masters at Augusta National and The Open would be a dream come true for me, and I have the chance to realise that dream by doing well in the AAC.”
Tanapat Pichaikool has the honour of achieving the best finish by a Thai golfer, finishing third in Shanghai in 2019.
At No 12 in the world, Ratchanon is the top-ranked amateur in the field for the tournament, which will be played at Amata Springs Country Club in Chonburi between October 27 and 30.
Victory has proved to be a springboard to success in the past, with the likes of 2021 Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama and this year’s Open winner Cameron Smith both having claimed the trophy in the past.
Like his teenage rival, Kho is also having something of a breakout season, and has impressed on several occasions while competing on the Asian Tour’s International Series.
Still, despite losing in a play-off to Keita Nakajima, Kho his performance at Dubai Creek Golf Club as the “highlight of my career so far”.
“Even though I lost in the playoff I was very pleased with how I competed,” the world No 75 said. “Do I want to go one step better? Absolutely. It would be an amazing honour to become the first player from Hong Kong to win an AAC title.”
Hong Kong will have three representatives at the tournament, with Leon D’Souza and Alex Yang, who played alongside Kho in France at this week’s World Amateur Team Championship, also in the field.
Chinese players are expected to provide a formidable challenge too, with three ranked inside the world’s top 50 amateurs.
Led by Yuxin Lin, who won the AAC title in 2017 and 2019, the contingent also features Oklahoma State University stand-out Bo Jin and reigning US Junior Amateur champion Wenyi Ding, who is currently the second-highest ranked player in the field at No 17.
Ding, who finished in a tie for 45th three years ago, said there was plenty of unfinished business, but did not know where he would rank because Covid-19 had prevented him playing against the best in the world.
“My goal for this year is to go as high as possible on the leader board and a champion’s trophy would be even better,” he said. “I would be happy to follow in other Chinese boys’ footsteps.”