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Young stars: Phuket siblings make their mark in golf world championships

PHUKET: At the tender ages of nine and seven, Phuket natives “Pai” and “Project” are already making a name for themselves on the world’s golfing circuit, with Pai recently picking up first runner-up spot at the FCG Callaway World Championship at The Westin Hills Resort, California and Project taking the first runner-up from the FCG International Golf Championship at St. Mark Resort, California and US Kids Golf World Championship at Pinehurst, North Carolina.

Premkamon Ketsara

Saturday 2 September 2017, 03:00PM

‘Project’ (front) and his older sister ‘Pai’.
‘Project’ (front) and his older sister ‘Pai’.

Both students at Kajonkiet International School Phuket (KIS), nine-year-old Miss Rattanawarin “Pai” Thassaneethiphakorn and her younger sibling, seven-year-old Mr Rattanabodin “Project’ Thassaneethiphakorn, scored seven under and one under par respectively to pick up their runners-up positions.

Pai and Project start playing golf at the ages of seven and five respectively after watching and enjoying golf tournaments they had seen on television, and ever since they have been backed and supported 100% by their father Mr Manotham Thassaneethipakorn and his wife.

Speaking in a recent interview with The Phuket News’ sister paper, the Thai language Khao Phuket, Mr Manotham said, “My wife and I fully support our kids and we want to let them do what they want when it comes to finding an interest which they enjoy.

“Prior to playing golf, Nong Pai had a keen interest in ballet. Not long after Nong Pai and her brother Nong Project became interested in hip-hop dancing, piano and swimming, they latter of which they competed at in a provincial level.

“But after that they both became interested in golf and since then that has been their main point of focus,” he said.

“But from the off-set I told Nong Pai and Nong Project that to play golf requires a lot of money and that I needed them to really be sure that this is what they wanted to do.

“If they really like something then I am happy for them to be and will support them to be fully engrossed in what they want to do.

“When they both insisted that golf is really what they want to do, my wife and I started to look for where they could learn. We found out about Dragon Kids Golf Academy and met with Pro Itthiphol ‘Thiean’ Sattaphithak, and he now teaches our kids,” he added.

After teaming up with Pro Thiean Pai and Project practiced hard and after a short time had a chance to take part in their first tournament. Then in June 2014 they joined the TGA-Singha Golf Ranking tournament where Pai won first runner-up and Project third runner-up.

“Later in 2014 they joined the TGA at the Pakasai Country Club in Krabi where Pai and Project both came first runners-up. This result made them so happy,” Mr Manotham explained.

“Since then they are continuing to enjoy playing golf and have gained valuable experience. One valuable thing they have learned is that they do not only compete against others, they also compete against themselves.

“Good golfers have a lot to learn; the courses, the weather and even the grass on the course. Everything is important,” he said.

“It is now three years since Pai and Project asked us what that sport was on the television, and now they continue to practice and never give up. In fact, they are interested in nothing more than golf.

“Golf can bond families and make them become closer. Sometimes I will even caddie for my kids when they compete in tournaments. At the weekend we usually go jogging at Suan Luang Park in Phuket Town or swimming. Actually, we like outdoor activities and we are happy doing these activities together,” Mr Manotham noted.

“Their mother take cares of their nutrition and clothes. I take care of their activities and studies. I pick them up from school at 4:30pm and take them to Phuknaka Golf Course. We arrive home at 7pm almost everyday. However, I know that they pay a lot of attention to their studies.

“We don’t need to push them for the extra lessons outside of school. I want them to take time to do things that they like at their age,” he said.

When asking about her favourite female golfer, Nong Pai said, “I like Pro May, she has a big body that can hit the golf ball very far.”

Nong Project said, “My favorite golf player is Rory Mcllroy and Pro Arm Kiradech Aphibarnrat. They can hit very accurately. I have received a trophy from Pro Arm.”

But the Thassaneethiphakorn family’s golfing story doesn’t quite end with Pro and Project, as three-year-old Nong Pegus is now learning the ropes and is so far following in his older sibling’s footsteps.



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