Saturday, October 19, 2019

Thailand's Jazz plays sweet music to share second at PGA

May 19. 2019
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By Agence France-Presse
Bethpage, United States

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Thailand's Jazz Janewattananond was in misery after two rainy practice days at the PGA Championship, only to have the skies clear and make his dreams come true.

The 23-year-old from Bangkok fired a three-under par 67 Saturday to share second on five-under 205 entering Sunday's final round at firm and dry Bethpage Black.

"On Monday, it was raining. Tuesday was raining. The course plays so tough because the rough was so long. The ball don't go anywhere," Jazz said.

"I was having a nightmare. How am I going to play this golf course? I'm not going to break 80."

Jazz shattered that idea, and while his 54-hole total is seven strokes behind leader Brooks Koepka, this week is already a success.

"This exceeds my expectation already," Jazz said.

Jazz, who won January's Singapore Open and stands second on the Asian Tour Order of Merit, plays in Sunday's penultimate group alongside Luke List, whose hometown is the same as the Masters -- Augusta, Georgia.

Jazz, whose only other US event was the 2017 US PGA Colonial in Texas, is loving the vocal New York crowds.

"People keep shouting love you. They love me here," Jazz said. "Trying to say my last name. I heard all sorts. Some pretty good ones. I heard some really funny ones. So keep it coming."

Jazz, who missed last year's British Open cut in his only prior major, turned professional at 14 in order to play more events.

"In Asia, we struggle to get a good amateur event. We don't have it there," Jazz said. "I play some over here, and it's amazing.

"Back in Thailand, back in Asia, we don't have that. We play once a month. Once a month is good. Sometimes we don't have it for three or four months.

"So turning pro is kind of like getting yourself into more tournaments but you're not really playing it. You still feel like an amateur playing."

Jazz ranks 16th on the qualifying list for this December's Presidents Cup matches in Melbourne, when a US squad captained by Tiger Woods takes on an Internationals (non-European) team guided by South Africa's Ernie Els.

With a strong PGA showing likely to vault him up the point list, Jazz might find himself going against Masters champion and 15-time major winner Woods before the year is over.

Woods, 43, won his first major title at the Masters in 1997 -- when Jazz was just 17 months old. Woods' mother, Kultida, was born and grew up in Thailand before moving to the US in her mid-20s.

"It's on the back of my mind for sure," Jazz said. "I played with Ernie a couple weeks back and he just told me to keep playing good. So I'll see about that."


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