Thai teenager Ratchanon Chantananuwat, the youngest ever male player to win an official Tour event, took time out of his usual school day at the Shrewsbury International School Bangkok Riverside on Tuesday to host a special golfing clinic with the school’s younger pupils to raise awareness about the sport ahead of this week’s LIV Golf Invitational Bangkok, the biggest event ever to be staged in Asia.
The 15 year-old, known as TK, made headlines in the sporting world earlier this year by roaring to victory as an amateur in the Asian Tour’s $750,000 Trust Golf Asian Mixed Cup at Siam Country Club’s Waterside Course in April.
TK competed in the inaugural LIV Golf Invitational London, June 9th – 11th, and has since served as a reserve player and golfing ambassador for the LIV Golf series. While not competing in this week’s $25 million LIV Golf Invitational Bangkok, which takes place from October 7th – 9th at Stonehill in the northern outskirts of the city, he’ll be on hand alongside some of the world’s best players. The event features this year’s Open winner Cameron Smith (Aus) and multiple major winners Dustin Johnson (US), Phil Mickelson (US) and Brooks Koepka (US), to name just some of the 48 superstars set to battle it out in Bangkok.
LIV Golf has a commitment to bringing new audiences to the game through its supercharged product, and ahead of the tournament – which includes an individual and team format – TK took time out from his studies to host a special masterclass and Q&A session, offering tips to those who wanted to follow in his footsteps.
He also put 14 lucky members of Shrewsbury’s after-school beginner golf programme through their paces, before distributing caps to the budding young golfers aged between six and 10.
TK said: ‘The school has helped me so much, so giving back to them is good; I can give them a favour back in return. Everywhere I go, people are actively trying to help – whether that’s the Asian Tour or the guys at LIV Golf. So it’s really nice that I can do that for the next generation.’
While some golfers might be in awe of such a promising young talent, TK’s current Physical Education teacher Ian Radcliffe explained how down to earth the Thai sensation – who used his visit to distribute some free tickets to his peers and their families – really is.
Radcliffe said: ‘When I first arrived (as a teacher), TK was in Year 2 alongside my son. They have become friends over the years and are now in the same class.
‘Obviously, I followed TK’s golf right from the early competitions we used to go to, right up to now playing on the full tour. It’s great to see. He is such a nice lad, he has still got that humility. He’s just TK to us. A world-class golfer, but when you see him in class with the other students, he’s just like everyone else.'
There was a real buzz around the school at the prospect of watching some of the world’s best tee it up over three days at Stonehill, and TK said, ‘I know a lot of the Thai fans are hyped. I have never seen this much media attention. I’ve gotten so many texts from friends saying ‘I want to go to this LIV Golf event’.
‘I think the LIV Golf Invitational Bangkok is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. For aspiring juniors especially, I definitely urge all of you to come watch it because you’re going to see so much good golf. As they say, ‘seeing is believing’ and I think from watching, you will be able to learn a lot of things. With how LIV Golf is designed, the players are really accessible to the fans. You might be able to get a signature from Phil Mickelson, or Dustin Johnson, Cam Smith or all of the other big players.’