By The Nation
The 24-year-old Thai endured initial struggles in the high altitude by opening with three consecutive 73s at Club de Golf Chapultepec in Mexico City before producing his lone under-par card which comprised of six birdies against three bogeys which saw him end the week in T53.
American Patrick Reed claimed a one-stroke victory for his second WGC-Mexico Championship title and eighth PGA TOUR career victory which moved him up to fifth place on the FedExCup points list.
Japanese star Hideki Matsuyama fired a 67 to finish T6 as the best Asian performer in the year’s first WGC while Presidents Cup International teammates Sungjae Im and Byeong Hun An, both from Korea, were amongst those who shared 29thposition.
With a 3-over 287 aggregate, Jazz, the reigning Asian Tour No. 1, finished some 21 strokes behind Reed which left the Thai in no doubt that he needs to sharpen his game considerably before he tees up at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard, THE PLAYERS Championship and WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play next month.
“It’s a very good experience. I’ve never played much in altitude before. It took some time to adjust and all in all, I think I learned a lot from this week,” said Jazz, who won four times in Asia last year.
“We’ll take this experience and use it to improve myself. I didn’t do anything that well, so I pretty much have to work on everything.”
He will enjouy an off week in Orlando to prepare for his next three starts on the PGA TOUR in March followed by a maiden Masters Tournament appearance in April. While he is dreaming of securing his PGA TOUR card through the Non-Member category, the Thai is under no illusion he needs to crank up his game by a few notches to have a realistic chance.
“I’m looking forward to spending some time in America. It’s going to be great as I love playing golf over here. I can see what I need to improve and I’ll try to improve,” said Jazz.
He is looking forward to reuniting with fellow Thai, Kiradech Aphibarnrat at Bay Hill. Kiradech, playing in his second full season on the PGA TOUR, finished T27 in the Puerto Rico Open on Sunday to stop a run of three missed cuts and he will be hoping to maintain his revival with a strong showing at this week’s The Honda Classic.
Jazz cannot wait to step foot at Bay Hill, a tournament closely linked to golf legend and the late Arnold Palmer. “Maybe he was a little bit before my time but he certainly influenced a lot of players who have then influenced me and got me to play golf. He was also my father’s hero,” said Jazz.
As he prepared to leave Mexico City, Jazz is hopeful of making a quick return after a fairly subdued debut in the US$10.5 million Mexican showpiece. Apart from the motivation to compete regularly against the world’s best golfers, Jazz said he was in love with Mexican food.
“I loved it,” said the baby-faced Jazz. “Apart from Thai food, Mexican food is one of my top-three favourite food in the world and I enjoyed myself eating so much. The player lounge here is like the best player lounge I’ve been to. I think I’ve gained a couple of pounds!”