'Diamond' Phachara hopes to sparkle on Asian Tour debut

Sat Apr 18, 2015 2:14am EDT
 
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(Reuters) - Fifteen-year-old Thai Phachara Khongwatmai will make his Asian Tour debut at next week's Indonesian Masters, hoping to steal some limelight from former world number one Lee Westwood and Dane Thomas Bjorn.

Phachara, whose name in Thai means 'diamond', first grabbed headlines when he won the 2013 Hua Hin Open as an amateur.

He turned professional last August before becoming the youngest winner on the Asian Development Tour, which serves as the feeder circuit to the Asian Tour, last month.

"I started playing golf when I was nine years old," said Phachara, who earned his Tour card through qualifying school in January. "I had to choose between golf and tennis and I chose golf.

"When I first touched a golf club for the first time, I started to love golf. I enjoyed going to the driving range, meeting friends and people.

"I will try my best to finish inside the top-60 on the Order of Merit at the end of this year. I hope to continue my rhythm after winning in Malaysia (on the ADT)."

Phachara, who had to drop out of school to chase his golf dream, is relishing the opportunity to play at the Royale Jakarta Golf Club as part of a stellar field.

"I work a lot on my golf skill. I like to learn every day," he added. "I relish the opportunity to play more and more international tournaments because I will gain a lot of experience from there."

(Writing by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; editing by Amlan Chakraborty)