Local Golfing Hero Wins Singha Hua Hin Open 2016
Local Golfing Hero Wins Singha Hua Hin Open 2016

Golfing fans in Hua Hin were able to witness two fine golf tournaments during the last half of July.  From the 18th to 21st August, Royal Hua Hin Golf Course hosted the 2013 Singha Hua Hin Open and on the 20th and 21st August Banyan Golf Club hosted the 2013 Hyatt Open.  Both of these Events featured some sensational play by very young players and in one case a world record!  Hua Hin Today managed to attend both of these Events and it was well worth the effort!  These Events were great forerunners to the Hua Hin and Cha-Am Golf Festival (August and September) with the official opening at Royal Hua Hin on 4th August.

2013 Singha Hua Hin Open

Our last visit to Royal Hua Hin coincided with the staging of the 2013 Singha Hua Hin Open between 18th and 21st July.  Over 2,000,000 THB was available as prize money at the Event.

This Event was one of 12 tournaments played in 2013 on the ASEAN PGA Tour worth US$1,095,000 providing an abundance of lucrative playing opportunities thanks to burgeoning ties between the All Thailand Golf Tour, run by Sports Management Group (SMG), and the Professional Golf of Malaysia (PGM) Tour.  The circuit teed-off with the US$100,000 Singha Esan Open from February 14th to 17th. The Tour will be breaking new ground by working with Malaysia’s fast rising circuit at the PGM-ASEAN A’Famosa Masters, the PGM-ASEAN Penang Classic and the PGM-ASEAN Negeri Sembilan Masters.   Another new tournament to be played will be the Bali International Pro Am.

“The eighth season of the ASEAN PGA Tour is set to be our finest ever,” said AC Wong, Executive Chairman, ASEAN PGA.  We will meet our main objective of providing more playing opportunities for our ASEAN-based members, be they rookie professionals or more seasoned campaigners.  We are also extremely confident this year’s schedule will be the catalyst for an ongoing expansion for our Tour.”

Wonder-kid Phachara Khongwatmai became the youngest winner of a professional golf tournament when he triumphed and this could be regarded as a world record.  The 14-year-old Thai amateur stunned a formidable field, which included most of his country’s top players, as he marched to a four-stroke victory following a final round four-under-par 67.

Phachara, who led by two at the start of the day, finished with a four-round

aggregate of 13-under.

Thais Prom Meesawat and Sutijet Kooratanapisan tied for second after rounds of 68 and 69 respectively.

“I am really, really happy to win against so many top players,” said Phachara, who had to pre-qualify for the tournament. “My putting was the key and I also worked very hard with my caddie. We planned everything carefully.”

He made par on the first nine holes before snaring his first birdie on 10. Handling the pressure like a seasoned professional he added further birdies at 15, 17 and 18.

“I couldn’t work out the line on 17 so got a bit lucky there but on the last hole I was more confident and thought I would put on a show,” said the teenager after his back-to-back 30 foot birdie putts.

He started playing when he was nine and practices every day after school. His school gave him the week off to play in Hua Hin.

“Tomorrow is a public holiday and the first thing I need to do is call my friends and catch up on homework,” said the golfing prodigy, who is the first amateur to win on the ASEAN PGA Tour.

Prom, who celebrated his 29th birthday today, was left awestruck. “It is amazing to see a kid play like that. I had a bogey-free round but look at what he did!” said Prom, who grew up at Royal Hua Hin. “It means so much to me at my home course to see a kid come through like this.”

Prom and Sutijet both earned a winners’ cheque for US$7,430.  Pre-tournament favourite Prayad Marksaeng, winner of this year’s Thailand Open on OneAsia, fired a 70 to finish seven off the lead.

The Singha Hua Hin Open, the sixth leg of the 2013 schedule, was co-sanctioned with the All Thailand Golf Tour. The next event on the ASEAN PGA Tour is the Singha Chiang Mai Open from August 8-11.

2013 Hyatt Open

The Hyatt Open was the fourth tournament and is set to continue for many years to come. The field of over 130 players included 21 different nationalities including those from Europe, USA, Australia and many Asian countries.  The new Open Champion Arlius Telaumbanul hails from Indonesia.

It was also noted that over a third of the field have competed in all four events; a testament to the popularity and management of the Event.

Prizes were awarded for three divisions, nearest to the pin, longest drives and even a chance to win a Toyota Vios for a hole in one.  Unfortunately no one managed to achieve this feat however one lucky winner of a draw prize walked away with a return airfare to Sydney Australia sponsored by Garuda Airlines.

LawtonAsia sponsored a charity chipping competition with donations being received by the entrants for a charity foundation for ‘slum kids’ in Bangkok. In combination with a charity auction held during a dinner at the Hyatt Hua Hin between the two days of golf, an amount of over 600,000 THB was raised.  Once again golfers showed their generosity towards charitable causes.

Another feature of the Event was a ‘Fantasy Team’ competition.  In this case each player was teamed (combined scores) with a PGA Pro playing in the British Open which was played over the same time period.  The winner was 11 year old (12 next week) Conor Kellywho was teamed with US pro Dustin Johnson.  Fittingly Connor’s father, Jerome Kelly is the Managing Director of LawtonAsia.  He said he has been playing golf since he was nine and now has an 18 handicap.  Conor seemed a little mystified about the accolades this win attracted and was a very modest winner!

Banyan Golf Course was in sensational condition and once again demonstrated why it is regarded as such a prestigious golf course.

In combination with the catering staff from The Hyatt Regency, the players and guests enjoyed a sumptuous buffet lunch with wine and beer.  The setting for the lunch provided panoramic views over the Course and to the surrounding hills.

Everyone clearly appreciated the friendly and efficient service from the Banyan staff and management to wind up the Event with the presentations.  Managing an Event like this takes skill and efficiency.  This included verifying player handicaps as no one likes there to be any doubt about a winning score.

The new Open Champion Arlius praised his caddie as major catalyst for his success.  He also added that all his drives hit the fairway, a real feat at Banyan and a necessary part of a good round.  Punishing rough on this Course can prove to be a very daunting.

Arlius (handicap 20) had net scores of 63 and 62 for a winning total of 125.  He takes home a replica of the famous ‘claret jug’, the trophy of the ‘British Open’ held over the same weekend.  “As the Hyatt Open is held the same weekend as The Open Championship, it only makes sense that the trophy be similar,” said Sammy Carolus, Hyatt Regency Hua Hin’s General Manager.

This is an Event well worth noting in your golfing diary however next year’s Event will be held a little earlier in the year and will be held on 21st and 22nd June. This time it coincides with the staging of the 2014 US Open.  This means that the 2014 trophy will be a little different, perhaps a replica of the US Open trophy.

Thanks to the management and staff at Banyan and the Hyatt Regency for their hospitality, see you again next year!