Singapore: At the age of 19, Danthai Boonma underlined his rising star credentials by winning his first Asian Tour title at the inaugural World Classic Championship at Laguna National on Sunday.
Much was expected of the Thai teenager, who won two gold medals at the 2013 South East Asian (SEA) Games, when he turned professional in November last year and he duly delivered when he notched a fine victory in his rookie season on the Asian Tour.
Danthai followed in the footsteps of three-time Order of Merit champion Thongchai Jaidee by earning a Tour card through Qualifying School where he finished tied seventh in January.
He struggled in his first year on the region’s premier Tour but the decision to revert to his old swing worked like a charm as he defeated Malaysia’s Nicholas Fung by one-shot at the tricky World Classic course.
“It was so exciting. I am very happy as this is my first win since turning professional and my first win came on the Asian Tour! It was a great week. I am very happy to get the job done,” said Danthai, the second Qualifying School graduate to win this year.
He was tutored by the late Natpasit Chokthanasart, nicknamed Pro Jew, who was also the coach for 2013 Order of Merit winner Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Prom Meesawat before he died two years ago. Since his passing, Danthai has never worked with another coach.
It was evident that the young Thai needed a huge lift in his career and it came at the World Classic Championship. His victory where he earned US$135,000 moved him to 20th position from 129th place on the Order of Merit.
“I haven’t played well since earning my Asian Tour card earlier this year so I am really happy with this win. It is a great boost of confidence, especially playing in my first year as a professional,” said Danthai.
With his Tour card safely secured for the next two years, Danthai has now set his sights on representing Team Asia in the EurAsia Cup presented by DRB-HICOM in January, 2016.
“I have seen how our Thai players played in the last EurAsia Cup. I want to be like them too. I will keep trying to get good results so as to put myself in a better position to qualify,” he said.
Anirban Lahiri of India continues to lead comfortably at the top of the Order of Merit with earnings of US$1,139,084. Scott Hend of Australia, winner of the Venetian Macao Open, trails by US$647,453 in second place while Andrew Dodt is in third position with earnings of US$427,631.
S.S.P. Chawrasia of India stayed in fourth place on US$304,922 followed by Thongchai Jaidee (US$268,820) of Thailand, K.T. Kim (US$249,000) of Korea, Danny Chia (US$238,966) of Malaysia and Paul Peterson (US$237,705) of the United States.
The Asian Tour will travel to the US$1 million Resorts World Manila Masters which starts on Thursday. Mardan Mamat of Singapore will defend his title at the Manila Southwoods Golf and Country Club.
Asian Tour Order of Merit (Top-20)
Pos Player Order of Merit (US$)
1. Anirban LAHIRI (IND) 1,139,084.65
2. Scott HEND (AUS) 491,631.66
3. Andrew DODT (AUS) 427,723.75
4. S.S.P. CHAWRASIA (IND) 304,922.55
5. Thongchai JAIDEE (THA) 268,820.13
6. K.T. KIM (KOR) 249,000
7. Danny CHIA (MAS) 238,966.36
8. Paul PETERSON (USA) 237,705.35
9. Cameron SMITH (AUS) 234,318.66
10. Richard T. LEE (CAN) 233,547.65
11. Prayad MARKSAENG (THA) 209,645.00
12. Marcus FRASER (AUS) 197,299.77
13. Chiragh KUMAR (IND) 184,475.17
14. Jazz JANEWATTANANOND (THA) 171,500.01
15. Mardan MAMAT (SIN) 162,882.93
16. Jeunghun WANG (KOR) 159,441.98
17. Sam BRAZEL (AUS) 156,933.52
18. Chapchai NIRAT (THA) 156,433.57
19. Siddikur RAHMAN (BAN) 149,646.83
20. Mithun PERERA (SRI) 145,209.06