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Thai Juniors Are Stars Of The Future

Thai Juniors Are Stars Of The Future

Paul Myers

August 12th, 2013

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Bangkok, August 12 — They’re young, talented and ambitious – the future faces of golf in Thailand and, if their dreams come true, internationally.

Sandy Wongwaiwate, 17, and Peng Pichaikool, 13, have what it takes to be potential golf champions and are now taking the next steps towards what they hope will be professional careers.

Sandy, from Chiang Mai in northern Thailand, has been playing golf since she was 10, represented Thailand last year in the national ladies squad in Singapore and Malaysia, and is about to begin a scholarship at prestigious US Ivy League college, Yale, in Connecticut.

Peng, from Bangkok, has represented Thailand for the past three years in junior events and this year qualified for the first time to compete in the junior world championships in California, held in July.

Peng’s father, Sukkho Pichaikool, a teaching pro at the Tee Off 42 driving range in Bangkok, is his coach. With a prodigious swing that propels the ball 300 yards plus with his driver, Peng can already hit the ball as far as many tour pros.

Tyson Powers, who with his wife Jib owns Bangkok-based D’ablo Sportswear, is helping the youngsters with their golf development and believes they have exciting careers ahead.

“It’s all about getting experience,” Tyson explains. “As a young Thai company ourselves, we want to be part of the development of Thai golf and so we are helping to guide young players like Sandy and Peng. We are confident that with the right instruction and assistance at this early age, they can reach the top.”

As with all talented young sportsmen and women, Sandy and Peng’s parents are a big part of their development.

“They both come from great families with highly supportive parents who are playing a major part in their golf development while also ensuring their studies don’t suffer. The fact that they are academically smart and committed to their education as well as golf is a major reason we are supporting them,” Tyson explains.

Sandy was introduced to golf by her father, Dr Somsak Wongwaiwate, and was convinced to play because her older brother had no-one with whom to practice at their local nine-hole Star Dome course at Chiang Mai.

Last year she won a scholarship to the Hank Haney Academy in South Carolina and while in the US met a member of the Yale women’s team. She was invited to apply for a scholarship to Yale, which she secured and will commence an economics degree in the fall semester. She will also join the university’s golf team.

Sandy’s ambition is to graduate from Yale, attend qualifying school for the LPGA Tour and, eventually, turn pro.

Her hero is the now-retired Swedish golfer, Annika Sorenstam, who she met during a visit to Mission Hills China, Shenzhen, where she designed one of the complex’s 12 signature golf courses.

Peng, who is entering the International School in Bangkok this year, finished in the top 50 of 175 competitors in his age group at the World Junior Championships in San Diego in July.

He has already been playing golf for seven years, has twice played in PGA Thailand events and was the top amateur in the 2013 Challenge Classic at Watermill Golf Club near Bangkok.

“Peng returned from the US with a clear understanding of where he is positioned among golfers his own age, “ says Tyson Powers. “He is probably going to come across these same players for the rest of his career. He came home determined to work harder to learn the skills that will hopefully enable him to become a tour pro.”

Remember their names – Sandy Wongwaiwate and Peng Pichaikool. Chances are, you will hear a lot more about them both in years to come.

Sandy Wongwaiwate

Sandy Wongwaiwate

Peng Pichaikool

Peng Pichaikool

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