Oscar Odestal a 15 year old from Sweden, beat 107 adults to win the 2nd Annual Hyatt Open at Banyan Golf Club in Thailand last weekend. In Hua Hin on a family holiday, the 15-year-old phenom played Banyan GC as if it were as familiar to him as Royal Eslov and Barseback – his home courses in Sweden.
With net scores of 65 and 69 for a two-day total of 134 (10-under-par), 10-handicap Swede Oscar Odestal finished one clear of runner-up Anand Singhsachthep to earn the champion’s trophy and the glory of taming a Rolex World’s Top 1000 golf course.
“Junior golf development is very close to our hearts at Banyan Golf Club, so to see such a young player win this distinguished tournament is fitting,” said Stacey Walton, Banyan GC’s general manager. “From tee to green, the course was playing as good as a tour event, and Oscar won with a tour-quality performance.”
Mark Siegel, MD of the Thailand golf tour operator Golfasian, who also played in this year’s Hyatt Open agreed. “With such a large field including some excellent players, 15 year old Oscar’s win is a great achievement. With most Thai courses having a relaxed view to young players, more and more of our overseas vacationers are bringing their children over to the Kingdom to play golf. It is a great experience for them to actually play nine or 18 holes on a first class course.”
Youth in Thailand seems to be taking a front seat this month, as Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand won the 63rd U.S. Girls Junior championship recently at Olympia Fields Country Club in the States.
It was the first victory in a match-play tournament for the 15-year-old Ariya, who captured the AJGA Girls Junior title earlier this year.
Thailand’s youth policy especially in golf seems to be paying off big time, with Thai Juniors also confident of winning in Asia next month as well.
Thailand also aims to win fourth consecutive titles in both men’s and women’s teams when it hosts the 32nd Asia Pacific Junior Golf Championship, at Royal Hills Golf Resort and Spa in Nakhon Nayok In August.
Thailand Golf Association president Rungsrid Luxitanond told a press conference recently, that eight countries will take part in the annual tournament – Thailand, India, Hong Kong, Taiwan, the Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia and Burma.
The Thai men’s and women’s squads have won the team titles three times in a row and Rungsrid hopes that both teams will win again.
Thailand Junior golf seems to be going down the right track. A lot of this success has to do with Thongchai Jaidee the Thai golf hero, has also made a big impact here in Asia and even runs his own junior golf academy in Lopburi.
Thongchai will be teeing up for the US$1 Million Thai Open, this year being held at the Suwan Golf & Country Club just outside Bangkok.
Winner of more than $2.5 million in Asian Tour in last eight years, Thongchai is regarded as a ‘Sporting Ambassador of Thailand’ and has been given a diplomatic passport by the Thai government.
With a golf course within easy reach (there are 250 across Thailand) and a policy where golf clubs actually go out of their way to encourage youngsters to come and play, it’s no wonder golf is in such a healthy state in Thailand.
The Thai government is taking particular pride in promoting one of their country’s assets; their beautiful countryside and the Tourism Authority of Thailand have created a special Thailand golf website www.golfinakingdom.com specifically to promote golf.
Bernard Langer did wonders for German golf, Nick Faldo the same for English golf, Tiger in the States and Rory Mcilroy in Northern Ireland for their respective countries too. Perhaps this mega win by Ariya Jutanugarn will now do the same for Thai golf.
From the majestic hill country of Chiang Mai in the northwest corner of Thailand to the breathtaking beaches of Phuket, ‘Golf in a Kingdom: The Thai Golf Experience’ takes in some of the most lush and varied terrain on the planet. In addition to the Banyan Golf Club, Black Mountain Golf Club in Hua Hin, and Chiang Mai Highlands Resort & Spa, the Kingdom’s stunning golf properties include:
- Thai Country Club, site of Tiger Woods’s 1997 Asia Honda Classic victory and the ‘Best Championship Course in Asia’, as voted by Asian Golf Monthly readers in 2008.
- Muang Kaew Golf Club, the closest course to bustling Bangkok, with a par 3 that looks eerily similar to the 12th at Augusta National.
- Siam Country Club – Plantation Course, a 36-hole, championship venue (its Plantation Course hosted the 2009 Honda LPGA Thailand) in the nightlife capital of Pattaya.
Among the first-class accommodations in the ‘Golf in a Kingdom: The Thai Golf Experience’ portfolio are:
- Bangkok Marriott Resort & Spa
- Hua Hin Marriott Resort & Spa
- Putahracsa Hua Hin
- Summit Windmill Golf Residence
- Anantara Resort & Spa Hua Hin
- Anantara Resort & Spa Phuket
- Anantara Koh Samui
- Anantara Resort Golden Triangle
- Palm Grove Resort
- Woodlands Hotel & Resort and Woodlands Suites Pattaya
- De Naga Chiang Mai
- Hilton Pattaya
- Hilton Hua Hin Resort & Spa
- Millennium Hilton Bangkok Hotel
- Hilton Phuket Arcadia Resort & Spa