Varanyu Holds Commanding Lead at Singha Laguna Phuket Open

Thailand’s Varanyu Rattanaphaibulkij maintained his position at the top with his second round of nine-under-par 61 at the Singha Laguna Phuket Open on Friday.

The 21-year-old Thai carded a flawless round with seven birdies and one eagle to lead the field by seven strokes on a 17-under-par 123 total at the THB2 million (approx. USD64,000) event co-sanctioned by the Asian Development Tour (ADT) and the All Thailand Golf Tour.

Compatriot Nitithorn Thippong proved relentless in his pursuit of a second ADT win when he returned with a solid round of 66 to take second-place on his own, while Sweden’s Oscar Zetterwall took third place following a 67 at Laguna Phuket.

Starting on the back nine, Varanyu eagled hole 14 after a good drive and solid approach with his five-iron left him with a three-footer tap-in. He made the turn at three-under after a birdie on 18 and would follow with six birdies for an inward 29.

“I was hitting everything solid and I played the three par-5s on this course very well and managed to hit the green in two shots on all of them. I enjoy playing this course and being on home ground. Especially since my mother is out here to watch me this week so I want to do well,” said Varanyu.

His low round which topped his opening 62, marked his lowest tournament round he achieved since he turned professional in 2015 and he credits his brother, nicknamed “Benz”, who is on his bag this week.

“I wasn’t nervous at all and I just stuck to my game plan of making fairways and greens. Benz and I were reading the lines well on the greens and I trusted him,” said Varanyu who is vying for a maiden win.

ADT winner Nitithorn mixed his card with six birdies and one double-bogey on the second hole when he pushed his eight-iron into the hazard.

“I was playing steady golf all day except for one missed shot. The pin was tucked in the right side and there was a hazard to the right of the green. I told myself to keep it short and hit it left but I pushed it right instead. But I made 16 greens today which was key for me and there were a lot of positives from the round,” said the 21-year-old.

Playing in the same group tomorrow, the Thai hotshot is ready to put up a good fight against his close friend Varanyu, who played junior golf with him before he joined the play-for-pay ranks.

“I am happy to be playing with him tomorrow since I haven’t seen him in a while. He is playing so well and I want to try and catch up with him tomorrow on moving day,” added Nitithorn.

The halfway cut was set at one-over-par 141 with a total of 57 players qualifying for the final two rounds.

The Singha Laguna Phuket Open is the eighth leg of the 2018 ADT schedule and the tour’s first stop in Thailand this year. Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) points are offered on all ADT events with the winner earning a total of six OWGR points while the top-six players and ties earn points on a sliding scale.

The leading five players on the ADT Order of Merit at the end of the season will earn playing rights on the premier Asian Tour for the 2019 season.

Leading round two scores
123 – Varanyu RATTANAPHIBOONKIJ (THA) 62 61
130 – Nitithorn THIPPONG (THA) 64 66
131 – Oscar ZETTERWALL (SWE) 64 67
133 – Samarth DWIVEDI (IND) 65 68, Mathiam KEYSER (RSA) 66 67
135 – Worrasorn SUWANPANANG (THA) 68 67, Donlaphatchai NIYOMCHON (THA) 68 67, Simon YATES (SCO) 67 68, Chaiphat KOONMARK (THA) 70 65, Pawin INGKHAPRADIT (THA) 66 69

Varanyu shoots 62 and leads at Singha Laguna Phuket Open

Phuket, May 10: Thai prospect Varanyu Rattanaphaibulkij signed for a blistering eight-under-par 62 to grab the opening round lead at the Singha Laguna Phuket Open on Thursday.

The 21-year-old fired 10 birdies against two bogeys to hold a two-shot lead at the ฿2 million (approx. US$64,000) event co-sanctioned by the Asian Development Tour (ADT) event and the All Thailand Golf Tour.

Sweden’s Oscar Zetterwall trails by two shots to share second-place with newly-crowned ADT winner Nitithorn Thippong on matching 64s at the award-winning Laguna Golf Phuket.

Nicknamed “Bank” by his parents, the young Thai birdied six of his first seven holes before dropping a shot on hole nine, when he missed a two-footer for par. He recovered soon after with birdies on 10, 11, 14 and 17 but would drop another shot on 18.

“I am very happy with my round today, it is my lowest round in a professional tournament! I was hitting everything good today and making a lot of putts. I knew I was playing well but I wasn’t thinking about the score,” said Varanyu who only totalled 25 putts.

“The course is much tougher compared to last year. The rough is difficult to hit out of. My bogeys on holes nine and 18 were because I missed the fairway so it was tougher to find the green on the approach,” added the Thai who is vying for his maiden ADT win.

Starting on hole one, Zetterwall carded a blemish-free round with six birdies, highlighted by a near eagle on hole six. He credited his low round to his solid short game accompanied by consistent tee shots which kept his ball out of the thick rough.

“The course is pretty short but the key for me was to keep my ball in play and I was hitting my driver well today. I nearly had an eagle on hole six but my approach leaped out of the hole and ran off the green. I made the up-and-down for par which was the highlight of my round because I think I would have been pretty upset if I didn’t get to make the putt,” said the two-time ADT winner.

India’s Samarth Dwivedi sits at tied-fourth with American John Michael O’Toole after a 65 while Thailand’s Pawin Ingkhapradit and South African Mathiam Keyser are in sixth place on 66.

The Singha Laguna Phuket Open is the eighth leg of the 2018 ADT schedule and the tour’s first stop in Thailand this year. Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) points are offered on all ADT events with the winner earning a total of six OWGR points while the top-six players and ties earn points on a sliding scale.

The leading five players on the ADT Order of Merit at the end of the season will earn playing rights on the premier Asian Tour for the 2019 season.

Leading round one scores
62 – Varanyu RATTANAPHIBOONKIJ (THA)
64 – Oscar ZETTERWALL (SWE) , Nitithorn THIPPONG (THA)
65 – Samarth DWIVEDI (IND) , John Michael O’TOOLE (USA)
66 – Pawin INGKHAPRADIT (THA) , Mathiam KEYSER (RSA)
67 – Simon YATES (SCO) , Supakrit RATTANAKAMPHOL (THA) , Puk PRADITTAN (THA)
68 – Hein SITHU (MYN) , Justin DE LOS SANTOS (USA) , Worrasorn SUWANPANANG (THA) , Tawan PHONGPHUN (THA) , Wisut ARTJANAWAT (THA) , Donlaphatchai NIYOMCHON (THA) , LOW Khai Jei (MAS) , Poom PATTAROPONG (THA)

Laguna Phuket Plans to Expand Golf Tournament

Laguna Phuket, the Thailand tourist island’s only fully integrated resort, has revealed plans for the upcoming Singha Laguna Phuket Open to become, eventually, as internationally well-known and inclusive as its acclaimed annual triathlon and marathon events.

Although only in its second iteration this year, the All Thailand Golf Tour event – to be held from May 10-13 – is guaranteed a wide following in Thailand and South East Asia through television coverage.

But Laguna Phuket’s managing director, Ravi Chandran, and assistant vice president and director of golf, Paul Wilson, have bigger long-range plans. In particular, they want to develop the professional tournament into a week-long celebration of golf that involves amateur players of all levels and abilities.

This will mean extending the current program of a pro-am on the Wednesday before the tournament and a “play like the pros” round on the day after its conclusion to a range of individual and team golf events for amateurs, spread over a week.

“The Laguna Phuket triathlon, which this year celebrated 25 years, and the marathon, being held in June for the 13th year, are highly-recognised events that attract thousands of participants and spectators from around the world,” Ravi Chandran explains.

“They have helped make Phuket an international sporting hub, with Laguna Phuket as the centrepiece. We believe the Singha Laguna Phuket Open can become equally well-known among golfers and be the third mantle in the island’s and resort’s sporting calendar.

“Many people remember the 2009 Thailand Open held at Laguna Phuket. Last year we successfully recaptured the interest from that event and this year, as Phuket’s only professional golf tournament, we aim to build on it further. The relationship with Singha as joint title sponsor is an excellent fit and we hope this also extends long into the future.”
Paul Wilson says the golf tournament can be expanded in coming years to include individual amateur and team events, similar to those organised around the triathlon and marathon.

“There are numerous short-distance, team and other activities associated with the triathlon and marathon,” he explains. “The full distance of both events attracts elite contestants and serious competitors from all over the world. But there are other shorter and less intense variations for people of all ages and abilities and we believe the golf tournament can be extended in a similar way.”

He says last year’s tournament resulted in increased tee-time bookings among locals and golfers from Thailand and the region and he expects the 2018 event will produce a similar uplift.

“The professional tournament is definitely raising our profile,” he adds. “We believe we can capitalise on this growing interest in many ways, both around the time of the event and at other times during the year.”

The 2018 Singha Laguna Phuket Open, with a THB2 million prize pool, will have a full field of 156 qualified professional and amateur male participants. As a joint-sanctioned Asian Development Tour event, it provides a pathway for aspiring golfers to develop their careers regionally and internationally.

For more information about the Singha Laguna Phuket Open, visit:
Laguna Golf Phuket: www.lagunagolf.com/phuket
All Thailand Golf Tour: www.allthailandgolftour.com
Asian Development Tour: www.asiandevelopmenttour.com
Asian Tour: www.asiantour.com

Phuket Ready to Host Singha Laguna Phuket Open 2018 This May

Phuket Province and Laguna Golf Phuket golf course have been selected as the premier venues to host All Thailand Golf Tour 2018’s “Singha Laguna Phuket Open” – a professional golf competition organised by Sports Management Group (SMG) with Singha Corporation as founding sponsor and Asia’s premier destination resort, Laguna Phuket, a title sponsor.

Aiming to expand “All Thailand Golf Tour” to Thailand’s leading tourism destination and promote Phuket Province as a sports tourism hub, Singha Laguna Phuket Open 2018 will be held during Thursday 10 – Sunday 13 May 2018 at Laguna Golf Phuket as a co-sanctioned golf event with Asian Development Tour (ADT). It will see the top professional players vying for more than 2 million baht prize fund. First tee time starts at 7am daily. Spectators welcome. Entry is free.

From left: Mr Virat Patee, Director of the Sports Authority Thailand’s Phuket office; Mr Jakraphong “Jay” Thongyai, Commissioner, All Thailand Golf Tour; Ms. Kanokkritika Kritwuttikorn, Director of Tourism Authority of Thailand, Phuket Office; Mr Suang Chantra-Urai, Manager, Sports Promotion Department, Singha Corporation; Mr. Norraphat Plodthong, Governor of Phuket; Mr Ravi Chandran, Managing Director, Laguna Phuket; Mr. Stuart Reading, Senior Vice President – Property Development, Laguna Resorts & Hotels PLC.; Mr Paul Wilson, Group Golf Director, Laguna Golf and Ms. Sirawee Waloh, Director of Phuket Provincial Office of Tourism and Sports.

IMPRESSIVE PRIZE ANNOUNCED
On Wednesday 18 April 2018, Laguna Phuket held a press conference to announce its official hosting of the Singha Laguna Phuket Open 2018. The conference was addressed by Mr. Norraphat Plodthong, Governor of Phuket; Mr Jakraphong “Jay” Thongyai, Commissioner, All Thailand Golf Tour; Mr Suang Chantra-Urai, Manager, Sports Promotion Department, Singha Corporation; Mr Ravi Chandran, Managing Director, Laguna Phuket (official hotel partner and title sponsor); Mr Paul Wilson, Group Golf Director representing Laguna Golf Phuket (official venue) and Ms. Kanokkritika Kritwuttikorn, Director of Tourism Authority of Thailand, Phuket Office.

“We are expecting many Thailand’s leading golf pros to compete in the Singha Laguna Phuket Open 2018 featuring 2 million baht prize fund,” said Mr Jakraphong “Jay” Thongyai, commissioner of All Thailand Golf Tour. “I’d like to encourage all golf enthusiasts to come cheer for the esteemed golf pros.”

Also up for grab is the hole-in-one prize of USD 12,000 Angsana Vacation Club membership that entitles the winner to exotic locales with contemporary Angsana resorts, trendy Cassia hotel residence concept and romantic Banyan Tree resorts in some of the most exciting destinations.

THE HOSTS ARE READY. SPECTATORS WELCOME.
“There will also be several homegrown golfers playing in the tournament, emphasising Laguna Golf Phuket and Asian Development Tour’s shared commitment of developing the game in Asia and inspiring junior golfers,” said Mr Paul Wilson, group golf director, representing award-winning Laguna Golf Phuket.

“With the world-class golf course and facilities, excellent condition and Asian hospitality along with our newly upgraded PGA-branded Laguna Golf Academy, we are all geared to welcoming the professional golfers of the Singha Laguna Phuket Open,” he concluded.

Mr. Norraphat Plodthong, governor of Phuket said “being the venue host of many national and international sporting events, Phuket Province sees great potential in becoming a regional sports hub in the very near future. We hope the Singha Laguna Phuket Open will become another annual event to heighten Phuket’s status as a leading sports tourism destination.”

Ms. Kanokkritika Kritwuttikorn, director of Tourism Authority of Thailand, Phuket Office, added “spectators are welcome at the Open with free entry, and while in Phuket you can also enjoy a wide variety of attractions on and off the golf course.”

SPECIAL HOTEL RATES AVAILABLE THROUGHOUT THE OPEN. BEST TIME TO EXPLORE LAGUNA PHUKET.
Mr. Ravi Chandran, managing director of Laguna Phuket, said “as Asia’s premier destination resort, this partnership resonates our development from an integrated resort to a preferred lifestyle destination for vacations and keynote events including the annual Laguna Phuket Triathlon and the Marathon. Many guests have made Laguna Phuket their permanent home.”

“As you can see we have got many great facilities here at Laguna Phuket such as our golf course and many other facilities all in the safe and secure environment very well located next to the beaches and close to airport,” concurred Mr. Stuart Reading, Senior Vice President – Property Development of Laguna Resorts & Hotels PLC.,

“For people looking to make Laguna Phuket home or vacation home, we have something for everybody with prices ranging from 5 million to THB 100 million baht, so you can find a place that matches your lifestyle. From affordable Cassia and Dhawa, our newest brand, to Laguna Park, upscale Angsana Oceanview and the luxurious Banyan Tree Grand Residences. Unit owners will also enjoy access to facilities here at Laguna Phuket and Sanctuary Club’s discount and privileges worldwide. All of these extensive programmes are unique, so owning a piece of Laguna Phuket comes with incomparable benefits and experiences.”

The press conference was held in the warm and relaxing atmosphere of Laguna Lifestyle Hub where guests and visitors can stop by to learn more about Laguna Phuket; the resorts, all the facilities, its history as well as to explore opportunities to own the resort’s residential and investment property development projects and call “Laguna Phuket” home.

From now till end of Singha Laguna Phuket Open, all Laguna Phuket resorts – Angsana Laguna Phuket, Angsana Villas Resort Phuket, Banyan Tree Phuket, Cassia Phuket, Dusit Thani Laguna Phuket, Laguna Holiday Club Phuket Resort and Outrigger Laguna Phuket Beach Resort; are offering special discounted room rates. For more details, visit www.lagunagolf.com/phuket and www.lagunaphuket.com

For more about All Thailand Golf Tour and Singha Laguna Phuket Open, visit www.allthailandgolftour.com

Inaugural Overseas PGA Conference Deemed A Big Success

The PGA Members’ International Conference will return to Thailand in 2018 following the success of the inaugural event held at the stunning Laguna Phuket Resort earlier this month.

The conference brought together PGA Members and delegates from 14 countries to one of Asia’s finest fully integrated resorts and home of the first PGA-branded facility in Thailand.

While there, they heard leading figures from the golf industry sharing their experiences and passing on invaluable advice.

One of the conference highlights was a presentation by Paul Gibbons of MST Golf, who spoke about his diversified career in golf.

PGA Master Professional Paul Burley, senior vice president and global head of golf course management – IMG, impressed delegates with his presentation on golf club management in Asia.

A lively debate about junior development & growing the game.
TrackMan session by Simon Yates at Laguna Golf Academy Phuket.

Junior coaching was also a topic of debate for Junior Golf Alliance’s Neil Plimmer and Michael Dickie, head coach to China’s Olympic golf team who also spoke about training elite players in Asia.

Asian Tour winner and PGA Member Simon Yates delivered an entertaining Trackman clinic and was aided by Thomas Tontapanish, the company’s representative in Southeast Asia.

The conference was also an opportunity for PGA Chief Executive, Robert Maxfield, to outline his vision and plans for the Association.

He said: “I am delighted with the success of our first ever PGA Members’ International Conference hosted at Laguna Phuket, Thailand.

“We had Members attending from 14 different countries which is a reflection of our truly global membership base and was incredibly valuable.

“It was also a fantastic opportunity to listen to those members, hear about the fantastic work they are carrying out within the industry and understand better how we, as their Association, can stay relevant to them into the future.

“We very much look forward to providing further opportunities like these for our Members to support them in their careers.”

Paul Wilson, AVP/Group Golf Director of Laguna Golf, added: “We are thrilled to have gathered PGA Members across the globe at one of the region’s finest resort destinations, to experience the resort service and facilities including our award-winning course and recognised PGA-branded academy. We look forward to hosting the conference again in 2018.”

What the delegates thought of the first PGA Members’ International Conference:

Karl Whitehead, General Manager, The Els Club, Dubai
“It was a great week on every level and I couldn’t be more impressed with the new leadership and vision. Very exciting times ahead. It’s some task and it will take some time, but I’m 100 per cent confident it will be achieved.” 

John Blanch, General Manager, Thai Country Club
“I wanted to thank you for the great job The PGA did in putting on and then running the conference. I have told everyone it was the best thing The PGA has done in my 30 years as a Member – it has reinvigorated many of us older guys and enthused the younger generation.”

Matt Hough, GOLFTEC, Hong Kong
“The whole trip from the way it was organised to the seminar content and the attendees themselves more than exceeded my expectations. Thanks for making it such a wonderful trip. I’m sure all the guys that attended will have left feeling a lot more positive having listened to the plans Rob Maxfield has for the future.”

Michael Dickie, Michael International Golf Academy, Shanghai
“I found the event extremely beneficial in meeting fellow industry professionals and hearing what they are doing and how they are developing their businesses. It was an honour and proud moment in my career to present at the conference and one I am appreciative of.” 

Steve Dougan, Director of Golf, Boringdon Park Golf Club
“From a personal perspective The PGA Conference has been great for me on so many levels including the seminars. But also it was such an amazing networking opportunity. I will definitely be spreading the word to friends and colleagues as everyone could benefit from attending future events.”

Paul Wilson, Group Golf Director, Laguna Golf
“As a PGA Member, I left the event excited and motivated for what the future holds for our Association. The PGA can reposition itself at the top of the golf industry, with a combination of Rob Maxfield’s leadership of the management team and the support of us Members.”