Puwit, walking tall among kids

Puwit, walking tall among kids

Even before a ball was hit at the recently-concluded 31st Asia Pacific Junior Golf Championship, a lot of buzz surrounded Thailand’s child prodigy, Puwit Anupansuebsai. Claims of him being one of the world’s best in Category D (10-12 years) sat heavily on the young lad’s shoulder, and he didn’t disappoint one bit, conjuring a jaw-dropping performance.

Blessed with god-gifted talent, Puwit blew the field away with authority to emerge victorious by a monumental 31 strokes. While others in his category, as well those above him, struggled to maintain consistency, Puwit never faltered in sweltering conditions, carding three successive sub-par rounds – one-under 71 -- on all three days.
Standing just a few inches taller than an average professional club, the chubby Puwit’s control, understanding and maturity of the game left many in awe. Dressed to kill with shoes and shades that matched his well-cut and neatly worn apparels, Puwit could have easily been misunderstood for a pint-sized pro from a distance.
It was not just his dress sense that baffled many. Whilst he drove the ball at least 30-40 yards ahead of his playing partners, his concentration on the greens showcased his genuine talent.

Having being forced into the game by father Korn as an alternative to video games when he was just seven, Puwit has taken to golf like a fish to water. “I did not want my son to waste time playing video games,” said Korn, through an interpreter. “I didn’t want him to get spoilt like other kids.”

The father may have denied his son access to video games, but the stationery shop owner instead built an 18-lane driving range in their hometown Nakhon Phanom, a province in north-eastern Thailand. “I built the driving range so that my son played golf. Honestly, I wanted golf to be a recreational activity but his growth has surprised even me.”

Puwit had his first hit at the driving range, which now has been thrown open to the public, at the age of seven. Coached by his uncle, he later began practising at a nine-hole course for three hours a day – all after attending school and completing his homework.  During the weekends, Puwit plays an entire round of 18 holes before unwinding himself with basketball.

“Academics will be the first priority,” says Korn, just like any other parent. “I won’t stop him from playing golf, but studies come first. After 18, if he wants to turn pro, then it is his call. I will be happy that I have laid two strong foundations for his career.” Puwit’s maiden venture at an international tournament was in 2008, where he finished tied seventh in Category E at the Junior World Golf Championship, held annually at San Diego. Last year, he climbed to the second position after triumphing in the World Masters at Las Vegas. His grip on the Asian circuit is far tighter, as he defended his 2009 title with élan.
Silent yet very watchful for the better part of the conversation with his dad, Puwit uttered his first words when asked who his favourite golfer was. “I am a big fan of Rory McIlroy,” the dimpled Puwit, a fifth-grade student, gushed. “I like the way he plays, he is a young achiever.”

While he may be too young to take a call on his career, the hard-working Puwit is intent on turning pro once he reaches 18. “I want to become a golfer and nothing else,” he said with emphasis.

With loads of natural talent, determination and encouraging parents, Puwit is definitely a star in the making, provided he is handled well and keeps progressing along the right lines.

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