Thailand’s Jazz Janewattananond continued his ascend in the world of golf with yet another winning performance at the Kolon Korea Open Golf Championship over the weekend.
The 23-year-old displayed the maturity and composure of a seasoned professional to win his fourth and second Asian Tour title of the year to regain his position atop the Asian Tour Habitat for Humanity Standings and also elevated his status to a career-high of 52nd place on the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR).
Jazz’s victory at the Kolon Korea Open saw him become the first foreigner to break the Korean dominance since American Rickie Fowler won their national Open in 2011.
It also allowed him to move back to the number one spot on the Order of Merit after being overtaken by Scott Hend when the Queenslander won the Maybank Championship in Malaysia in March.
It will also increase his chances of making Captain Ernie Els’ International Team at the President’s Cup in Melbourne this December.
“I am really proud of myself that I managed to get the job done. It’s good to be back at the top on the Asian Tour Order of Merit now but it’s still a long way to go this season. I am not sure what Scott (Hend) plans to do now that he saw me winning but if he does come back to challenge, I’m sure it will be an interesting battle,” Jazz said.
At 14 years and 71 days, Jazz already began to show the world glimpse of his raw talent when he became the youngest-ever player to make the halfway cut at the 2010 Asian Tour International in Bangkok.
He may have faced several roadblocks in his career including finishing outside the top-60 on the Order of Merit in 2016 and missing the grade at the 2017 Asian Tour Qualifying School.
But the young Thai has shown great resilience by bouncing back each time the odds were stacked against him.
RIGHT: Hend has been leapfrogged by Janewattananond on the Order of Merit. PHOTO: Lintao Zhang/Getty Images.
He got his career back on track with a morale-boosting win at the Bashundhara Bangladesh Open in 2017 and has gone on to win at least once every year since then.
Jazz savoured a home victory at the Queen’s Cup in 2018 before lifting the season-opening SMBC Singapore Open trophy in January this year.
“I guess those setbacks helped in my game as you need them to bring out success,” Jazz said.
Apart from raking up four other top-10s on the Asian Tour this season, Jazz also enjoyed a remarkable tied-14th place finish at the US PGA Championship last month which was the best-ever result achieved by a Thai player at the US PGA Championship.
A borrowed putter from Zimbabwean Scott Vincent also proved to be his magical wand. He enjoyed back-to-back top-five finishes on the Japan Golf Tour in the last three weeks before tasting success again in the Land of the Morning Calm.
“I’ve been using this long putter since two weeks ago in Japan where I came in tied-third. This is not my putter. I borrowed it from Scott Vincent. I am feeling very good with it so I don’t have any plans on returning it to him now,” Jazz laughed.
Vincent, who secured his third top-10 finish of the season after closing with a 68 at the Kolon Korea Open, meanwhile remains in ninth place on the money list and is pleased his generosity has been one of the catalyst for allowing Jazz to orchestrate all the right moves lately.
“Yes, Jazz is using my putter this week. We might have to renegotiate our contract (laughs). But no, he’s going to keep it. He’s doing really well with the long putter and I am very happy for him,” said the Zimbabwean, who claimed his first international victory on the Japan Challenge Tour a fortnight ago.
Jazz, along with a host of leading players from the Asian Tour, will be back in action at The 148th Open which will be held at Royal Portrush from July 18-21.
Top-20 players on the Habitat for Humanity Standings
Pos Player Order of Merit (US$)
1 Jazz JANEWATTANANOND (THA) $738,093.21
2 Scott HEND (AUS) $527,530.94
3 Taehee LEE (KOR) $274,023.14
4 Yosuke ASAJI (JPN) $272,638.11
5 Masahiro KAWAMURA (JPN) $249,266.67
6 Zach MURRAY (AUS) $204,670.05
7 Johannes VEERMAN (USA) $174,441.87
8 Micah Lauren SHIN (USA) $164,552.31
9 Scott VINCENT (ZWE) $159,882.11
10 David LIPSKY (USA) $137,309.79
11 Prom MEESAWAT (THA) $109,799.97
12 Janne KASKE (FIN) $106,719.00
13 Dongkyu JANG (KOR) $104,405.57
14 Berry HENSON USA) $104,342.21
15 Panuphol PITTAYARAT (THA) $87,509.11
16 Sadom KAEWKANJANA (THA) $87,433.65
17 S. CHIKKARANGAPPA (IND) $77,128.12
18 Yuta IKEDA (JPN) $74,749.19
19 Sanghyun PARK (KOR) $71,906.58
20 Ajeetesh SANDHU (IND) $70,801.84