Thailand’s Prom Meesawat, a two-time winner on the Asian Tour, says he is “happy to be alive” after having to endure a nightmare few weeks last month suffering from a ruptured appendix.
A video of him on social media a few days ago walking tentatively and gingerly in a swimming pool tells part of the story, fortunately the tail end of it.
On October 15, he had a surgery to fix the problem, but it was by no means routine.
“I was playing golf with all the boys last month. And in the afternoon I was going to the gym but my stomach started feeling uncomfortable,” says Prom – whose famous father Suthep was the first Thai to win the Thailand Open in 1991.
“And then I went to the hospital in the evening on Sunday, just to see the doctor and he gave me some medicine to try and help the pain. The next day I am still going to play golf but I could only play six holes because it was so painful and I lost my energy.
“I almost could not drive back. So I rested in the locker room. Then I drove to Synphaet Hospital in Bangkok. The same doctor gave me ultrasound and gave me a thorough check up. I was admitted for two days but they could not see anything unusual from the ultrasound result.”
He stayed for another two nights, went home for two days but it was still painful, so he went back to the hospital again on Thursday. The doctor suggested a CT scan which revealed a rupture appendix.
“Then I had surgery on that night on October 15. I haven’t touched the golf club in over a month now as I need to recover first. It has been a month and half and Tuesday was my first day walking in the pool. I am alright now, no pain. It’s just the core muscle where I felt a little bit of pinching on that spot,” he added.
The 36-year-old explained it was very painful and after reading about it he didn’t realize it was life threatening because it was ruptured.
Next month he is going to start work on strength condition with his trainer but not work on the core area.
“What made this difficult was that it just felt uncomfortable in front of my stomach. It was not right at the spot where the appendix is. So that is why the doctor could not tell what happened with me. Even when they touched or pushed on the appendix spot there was no pain. It was a very difficult case.”
It took almost a week to find out it was appendicitis. And they did not know it was ruptured, which could have cost his life.
“I didn’t expect it was going to be an appendix problem. The doctor said we can do surgery tonight or tomorrow, I said no! Do it straight away. No, don’t wait! I am glad I am still alive,” added the Thai star.
He says the plan right now is to start walking in the pool and see if he can do some short game work.
“I have to get my body flexible to help the wound. We don’t know how the wound is inside. I am going to start slowly and not try to force it. I am a professional and I need to take care of my body really well. If the Tour starts in January, I might have to miss the first couple.”
Prom won the Singha Pattaya Open earlier in August for a record fourth time on the All Thailand Golf Tour and was in fine form before he fell ill.
“It all happened very quickly. We weren’t prepared for that. My wife took very good care of me despite having to take care of two kids. It is good that the hospital was close to my house – only five mins away. That was perfect,” Prom added.
In-form John Catlin will head to Dubai this weekend for the final two events of the year on the European Tour, feeling recharged, ready to go and in search of the same kind of success he enjoyed in September.
The American won twice in the space of three weeks in September on the European Tour – first at the Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucia Masters in Spain then the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open – and after a long-break at home in California, he is all set for the Middle East.
Next week is the inaugural Golf in Dubai Championship presented by DP World, while the week after is the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai – the prestigious season-ending event on the European Tour, for the top-50 players from the Race to Dubai Order of Merit.
Both events are being played at Jumeirah Golf Estates, with the Fire Course used for the former and the Earth Course for the latter.
“I just want to do it again. I am never really satisfied. I have set new goals and I am ready to strive and achieve those,” said Catlin, who turned 30 years old recently.
“To win two times in Europe in a three week stretch, I basically gave it everything. I had nothing left over in the tank.”
Having been on the road for over three months, playing the European Tour’s ‘UK Swing’, Catlin headed home after the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth in October and took the first three weeks off golf completely as he “was pretty exhausted”.
“I believe that is the longest I have gone when I have not touched a club at all, with that three and half weeks off. I actually caddied for my coach’s daughter. That was kind of fun,” adds Catlin, who says his coach Noah Montgomerie has played a key role in his success.
“I had to make a few purchases: I bought myself a new phone, a new Mac book, some new headphones, updating everything. Get myself ready to go back on the road.
“I forced myself to take time off, which was nice. But the last three weeks I have been going at it every day. Gym, practice, the whole nine yards.”
Catlin is a four-time winner on the Asian Tour and two-time champion on the Asian Development Tour. He claimed three of those Asian Tour titles in 2018 – which he says wasn’t as taxing as his wins in September.
“The two wins [in Europe] just drained me, I was very tired, when you are in that circumstance and trying to win a tournament. It was a similar feeling after my Asian Tour wins but the nice thing about those were they were kind of spaced out. The win I had in China was in April, then I won Sarawak in July, and then Chinese Taipei in September.”
He is currently ranked 27th on the Race to Dubai and is particularly excited to have earned a place in the elite field for the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai.
“It is a goal you set at the start of the year, to be top-50. Having a chance to win that event is what you are working for and it’s kind of in the back of your mind. It is not easy to finish in that top-50,” says the American.
“I am looking forward to playing and seeing what I can do. I have proven to myself I can win on the European Tour. I am gonna prepare and give it everything I have got. I have never even been outside of the airport in Dubai. It is gonna be a new experience. I just want to have a chance on the back nine on Sunday. Same for the first one. If I can do that in both events I will consider it a great success.”
The Asian Development Tour is a strong and emerging secondary Tour, with its own identity and an impressive schedule, rich with events. It has also become a conveyor belt of stars-in-the-making, and of course it’s a circuit that the Tour’s membership cannot wait to play once the ‘new normal’ is resumed post COVID-19. We spoke to some of its best-known graduates about how important the Tour has been for their careers.
When Korean Joohyung Kim earned a remarkable ‘battlefield promotion’ to the Asian Tour last year thanks to three brilliant victories on the Asian Development Tour (ADT) it meant the region was excited and proud to have discovered another young and prodigious talent.
But, perhaps, more important than that was the fact that the ADT had once again served its purpose and met its objectives.
Launched in 2010, the ADT is the region’s secondary circuit that runs parallel and in unison with the Asian Tour – providing opportunities for up-and-coming players, not just from Asia but from all over the world.
It is a feeder tour, a supporting tour, a stepping stone tour that gives even the most talented golfers the one thing they are not born with: that all important element called experience.
The top-seven players on the ADT Order of Merit at the end of the season earn their Asian Tour cards plus all events receive Official World Golf Ranking points – both magnet-like attractions for players just starting out.
And, last year the ADT boasted 19 events with a total purse of US$1.74 million while it was in 2015 that the Tour enjoyed its finest year-to-date with a record 28 tournaments boasting overall prizemoney of US$2.2 million.
Kim, now aged 18 but 17 when he completed his hat-trick, is the most recent high-profile graduate who this year went on to play in his maiden Major – the US PGA Championship – and his first PGA Tour event.
But there have been many players who have successfully emerged from the ADT and perhaps the best known is American John Catlin – who sensationally claimed two titles on the European Tour in September this year: the Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters and the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open.
“The year I played , I played 22 events, they were all four rounds, they are Official World Golf Ranking events, and you are playing against good golfers and you have to go out and shoot good numbers to win tournaments,” says Catlin.
The Californian did just that, winning the Combiphar Golf Invitational in Indonesia on the ADT in 2016 – his first Tour title. And, he also claimed the PGM EurAsia Perak Championship in Malaysia, on the same tour, the following year.
At that time the top-five on the ADT Order of Merit earned their Asian Tour card.
Says Catlin: “I think playing that many tournaments and having to finish top five, when I was playing, to earn my Asian Tour card, it was a great experience for me and gave me confidence. It was top-five on ADT, then top-60 on Asian Tour and then top-110 on the European Tour – it was all stepping stones. But to have accomplished that first stepping stone gave me a lot of confidence to accomplish the second one and so on and so forth.”
He says it also taught him how to win.
“Winning is not easy, any Tour you play on you have to play very good golf. Winning those two events on the ADT was a huge boost and gave me the confidence to win on the main Tour, especially that first win [on the Asian Tour] at the Asian Pacific Classic in China. I was able to draw on those previous wins,” added the American.
“The opportunity that the ADT gave me was very, very big.”
Catlin explains that it was his coach Noah Montgomery who first suggested he play in Asia.
“It wasn’t an avenue I had considered,” he explains.
“As I looked into it and saw the opportunities and saw some of the success stories and guys like Cameron Smith, Kiradech [Aphibarnrat], Anirban [Lahiri], the list goes on and on. There are so many success stories about Asian Tour players who have moved onto the European Tour and PGA Tour. I saw it as a great opportunity and I saw the cost effectiveness of it.”
He went on to win four times on the Asian Tour, including three in 2018 – when he was voted the Asian Tour’s Players’ Player of the Year.
But he is quick to acknowledge that life was difficult in the early days, as it is for all rookies.
“The hardest part, if you don’t have unlimited funds, is to find a place to play where you can develop your game in order to become a better golfer and not break your budget.
“And that is what is great about the ADT, they make it affordable for guys, entry fees are US$50, caddie fees aren’t outrageous, you can find a reasonably priced hotel, food is reasonably cheap, and with the same amount of money you can play one year in America, you can play two or three on the ADT.”
Catlin, who based himself in Hua Hin, Thailand, while playing in Asia, finished second in the Boonchu Ruangkit Championship in January – which was the only ADT event played this year before the coronavirus pandemic.
The main who beat him was Thailand’s Pavit Tangkamolprasert – who, thanks to the victory, became the most successful player in ADT history with seven wins.
Pavit is a two-time winner on the Asian Tour but he mastered his craft on the ADT – particularly in 2014, when he triumphed four times and lifted the Order of Merit title.
“I respect the ADT very much, it is a Tour that is only getting stronger. I got into the Asian Tour through this tour and will always recognize that,” said Pavit.
“The ADT gave me an opportunity to develop my game to this level. I had so much experience during the journey and I appreciate being part of both the development tour and main tour. The experience of the development tour helps me to keep my game at a high level. It [the ADT] is an experience that everyone needs to try, it is a quality tour.”
Rising Indonesian star Danny Masrin was starting to play some of the finest golf of his career at the end last year and beginning of this season and says his time on the ADT has played a big part in his development.
“When I first came out I remember when the cut line was typically over par, but as I spent my time there it quickly became that if you weren’t under par you probably were not going to make the cut. I definitely think that the quality of players has significantly gotten better every year. I mean we are seeing ADT players winning AT events which is great and says a lot about the ADT,” says Masrin.
“I think also especially starting out as a professional the key is trying to get as many four round events as you can by playing the weekend. The ADT was a good developing ground to feel comfortable with four days of tournament golf. I would say a lot of the courses were very scoreable which gave us confidence when it was time to play Asian Tour events when we got the opportunity.”
Another crucial part of the success of the ADT is the relationships it has built with the domestic circuits that it jointly-sanctions events with, as well as local promoters.
The ADT hosts regular events with The PGM in Malaysia, the Professional Golf Tour of Indonesia, the All Thailand Golf Tour and Taiwan PGA and has also held events in Bangladesh, Brunei and Pakistan in the past.
It is a coming together of the major stakeholders of golf in Asia that will serve the ADT well long into the future.
In an encouraging performance that bodes well for the future, he finished the tournament on two- over-par 290 in a tie for 51st place – in privileged company, alongside former champions Zach Johnson from the United States and Canadian Mike Weir.
Jazz impressively made the halfway cut with rounds of 69 and 71 to get to four under and at one point was just five off the lead.
— Jazz Janewattananond (@jazzjanegolf) November 15, 2020
World number one Dustin Johnson won his first Masters title by five strokes as he finished with a record-breaking low score of 20 under par.
The American posted a 68 to hold off Australian Cameron Smith and Korea’s Sungjae Im.
“It’s hard. I was nervous all day. I could feel it,” said Johnson, who will defend his title in five months’ time when The Masters returns to its usual spot in April.
“The Masters is for me the biggest tournament and the one I wanted to win the most. I am just very proud of the way I handled myself and finished off the tournament.
“It still feels like a dream. As a kid, I was dreaming about winning The Masters and having Tiger put the Green Jacket on you still feels like a dream.
“But I am here and what a great feeling it is. I could not feel more excited.”
Johnson’s stunning performance saw him beat the record lowest winning score of 18-under-par set by American Tiger Woods in 1997 and his compatriot Jordan Spieth in 2015.
Woods, bidding to don a sixth Green Jacket, carded a 10 on the par-three 12th but recovered with five birdies to finish with a 76 on one under, in tie for 38th.
On 12 his tee shot rolled back off the green into Rae’s Creek, as did his third after taking a drop, and he then found the water again out of a bunker.
“This is unlike any other sport in which you’re so alone out there and you have to figure it out and you have to fight and no one is going to call in a sub and you just have to figure it out, and I did coming in,” said Woods.
“That’s part of our sport. That’s what makes this game so unique and so difficult mentally. We’ve all been there, unfortunately.”
Pre-tournament favourite Bryson DeChambeau from the United States, who won the US Open in September, ended with a 73 put him on two under par for the tournament in equal 34th.
The Thai star, who impressively made the cut with rounds of 69 and 71, is now at one-under-par 215 for the tournament – a fine performance for a young man making his maiden appearance at Augusta National.
World number one Dustin Johnson from the United States takes a four-stroke lead into the final round.
Jazz was undone by a poor start. He bogeyed the first and third and then doubled the fifth – where he pulled his second shot left of the green, chipped short and three-putted.
But he bravely gathered his composure of that, playing the remaining holes in one under with birdies on seven and 15, before dropping a shot on the last.
Jazz has been paired with American star Collin Morikawa, winner of this year’s US PGA Championship, in the final round. They tee off 9.34 pm Singapore time with Charles Howell III from the United States, on tee 10.
Johnson accelerated away with a bogey-free 65, his second of the week, to lead on 16-under.
The American, chasing a first Green Jacket, equaled The Masters’ record lowest score after 54 holes. He had an incredible start to his third round, thanks to an eagle on the second and birdies on three, four and seven.
South Korea’s Sungjae Im, Abraham Ancer of Mexico and Australia’s Cameron Smith are tied second on 12 under.
“I have been playing really well, I just need to get a few putts to drop,” said Johnson, who tied for second last year.
“It was a really good day, I have been swinging well all week. Even after getting off to a good start, I tried to stay patient and be aggressive when I could.
“There are so many really good players around the lead, I am going to have to go out and play well if I am going to win. I have to go out and execute.”
American Tiger Woods posted a second successive 72 that keeps him at five under for the tournament.
“I can’t win it from where I am but I can make birdies and sweep in for a top-10 finish,” he added. “I just need to make birdies – I haven’t made any this week.
“Today was a long day but I still had my chances.”
Thailand’s Jazz Janewattananond continued his strong start at The Masters on Friday by impressively moving to four-under-par for the tournament, before play was stopped for the day when he was on the seventh hole – his 16th, as he started on the 10th.
He sits just five shots behind clubhouse leaders Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas from the United States, as well as Mexican Abraham Ancer and Cameron Smith from Australia.
They share the clubhouse lead on nine-under-par 135, as benign conditions saw the early starters enjoy low scores. World number one Johnson shot two-under-par 70, Ancer 67, Smith 68 and Thomas 69.
A total of 46 players will return to complete their second rounds at 8:30 pm Singapore time on Saturday after fading light curtailed Friday’s play – the backlog the result of a long delay on the opening day caused by bad weather.
Jazz, playing in his first Masters, shot a brilliant 69 on Thursday – he birdied four out of the last six holes, including the 18th – and moved to five under for the tournament at the turn on day two with birdies on 12 and 15.
He dropped a shot on the first and then carded par after par before play was stopped. He split the fairway with his tee shot on number seven.
Jazz, the reigning Asian Tour Order of Merit champion following four brilliant victories last year, is in privileged company on four under as American Tiger Woods – the defending champion who is chasing his sixth Green Jacket – is also on that score.
Woods is halfway through his second round, level par for the day playing the 11th.
England’s Paul Casey, the first round leader after a 65, had one bogey and 10 pars in the 11 holes he managed to complete on Friday and will resume with a 10-foot birdie putt on the par-three 12th on Saturday.
Pre-Masters favourite Bryson DeChambeau from the United States erratic tournament continued as four birdies were offset by four bogeys and a triple-bogey seven at the third after he lost his ball.
It leaves the US Open champion one over with six to play and battling to make the cut, though the American will resume his round with a putt for an eagle at the par-five 13th.
Thailand’s Jazz Janewattananond made a dream start to his debut in The Masters on Thursday after shooting a three-under-par 69 at August National Golf Club.
The reigning Asian Tour Order of Merit champion was one over after bogeys on 11 and 12 but stormed home making four birdies on his final six holes – including one on the famous par-four 18th, where he hit his second to 10 feet.
The 24-year-old is four shots behind England’s Paul Casey – who holds the clubhouse lead with a 65, on a weather-hit opening day.
“It’s very good, it’s my first round out here at Augusta. I just tried to get it all in. A little bit of a rain delay at the start. It’s still a really good round at Augusta,” said Jazz, who claimed four titles on the Asian Tour last year.
“They said the golf course plays a little different than April. Maybe it’s lucky for us first timers that we can be kind of eased into Augusta. It’s very fortunate for us. My birdie on 18 was pretty nice to cap it off.”
He had played the front nine in one under with a birdie on the second and magnificently handled the treacherous greens not making any three putts. He hit 12 of the 18 greens in regulation and 10 out of 14 fairways.
He added: “I think the golf course will play a bit different because it rained today, and I think the weather is going to turn out for us on the weekend, so we’ll see how much it changed. I’m looking forward to it.”
Two-time Asian Tour winner Justin Harding from South Africa was two-over for his round after 13 holes when played ended for the day.
Casey’s bogey-free round featured five birdies and an eagle.
He recorded his best major finish earlier this year when he tied for second at the US PGA Championship in August and enjoyed a stunning start at Augusta.
The 43-year-old birdied his opening hole, the par-four 10th, and was four under after seven and then took the lead with an eagle at the par-five second.
He hit a stunning approach to four feet and holed the putt to move to six under par, before adding another birdie at the par-three sixth.
“I know this golf course better than most, my first Masters was 2004. It’s a golf course I love to play,” said Casey.
“What I desperately want is people pouring through the gates to watch myself and others play golf, but until that happens I’ll make the most of it.”
Defending champion Tiger Woods from the United States started strongly with a 68, while his countryman and pre-tournament favourite Bryson DeChambeau battled back after early struggles to shoot 70.
“It was so different, not only the sight but the energy – there are no roars. But we are able to compete for a Green Jacket this week which earlier this year seemed improbable,” said the 44-year-old.
“I understand how to play this golf course. It’s a course that allows for experience.”
An electrical storm saw play suspended for three hours, so 45 of the 92 players did not complete their rounds.
American world number three Justin Thomas was five under after 10 holes, while world number one Dustin Johnson from the United States was three under after nine.
Jazz Janewattananond joins an exclusive club of golfers today when he tees-off in The Masters for the first time but when he first turned professional, a decade ago, thoughts of competing in a Major championship were very far from his mind.
In the latest My Time video in partnership with ROLEX, he reveals just how daunting it was at the start of his career and how he did not know what to expect.
“I turned professional the day before I turned 15. I remember it quite clearly,” says Jazz, now aged 24.
“We just decided to go for it. To try and improve myself. I was so young and I was really naïve.”
He made the cut that week he turned professional at the King’s Cup in 2010 and finished in a tie for 44th – to earn a first pay cheque for US$1,590.
“I was just star struck, like a deer in the head lights. I didn’t know what to do but I was there to take it all in and the rest is history,” added the Thai.
Jazz played in a handful of Asian Tour events prior to joining the play for pay ranks and played all four rounds in the Asian Tour International in 2010 making him the youngest player to make the cut on Tour at the age of 14 years and 71 days.
He goes onto explain how difficult the road to the top has been despite his immense talent and gift for the game.
In 2016, he tried his hand on the Web.com Tour (now the Korn Ferry Tour) but when he returned he had lost his playing rights on the Asian Tour.
As is well documented he went into Monkhood in Thailand in January of 2017 in search of focus and direction. And he most definitely found it.
“They [the Monks] just make you see things in a different perspective. Golf is not the biggest thing in your life,” he says.
“Not even a month after that, I won my first Asian Tour tournament. Everything was automatic and things just clicked. When you win that first tournament and get that weight off your shoulders you don’t have anything to prove anymore.”
That event was the Bashundhara Bangladesh Open – which proved to be the catalyst his career was looking for.
Says Jazz: “I didn’t really think I could win an Asian Tour event, I didn’t have the mind set to go and win”.
The following year he won the Queen’s Cup before his remarkable 2019 season when he won four times and claimed the Asian Tour Order of Merit title.
The first of those victories came at the SMBC Singapore Open at Sentosa Golf Club in January.
“It [the SMBC Singapore Open win] is a rush that I never feel before in my life. [My] heart doesn’t beat faster but it beats louder,” says Jazz.
“The weight was lifted off my shoulder, you get through it and come out on top.”
“It was practically unheard of to win four tournaments in a year,” says Cho Minn Thant, Commissioner and CEO of the Asian Tour.
“We thought he would bloom a lot earlier than he did. We thought he would be a super star by the time he was 18.”
Indeed, there was a slight delay in his progression but that is all a distant memory now as he prepares to play at Augusta – where his phenomenal power and feel for the game could see him challenge despite it being the first time he is playing there.
“I can’t tell my future. I just have to keep working hard,” says Jazz.
“I don’t know how far I can go, but my goal is to be top-three in the world.”
“I played pretty solid in last week’s Houston Open but did not get too much going in and around the greens. I think it bodes well for this week,” said Harding, who finished in a tie for 38th on Sunday.
“I feel like I have a good idea where my swing is at. And I am just going to try and build on the good memories of last year. I am excited, it’s almost go time now.”
Last year marked the first time he had played in the US Masters but he felt he knew how to play the course having watching it so many times.
“You feel like you have played it 100 times as you have watched it on TV. You kind of know how to play it. So it didn’t feel like last year I was overwhelmed. It was a matter of maintaining and controlling my emotions,” added Harding, a two-time winner on the Asian Tour.
“I played solid all four days. I didn’t quite take advantage of the par fives as much as I would have liked. I played the par threes pretty good. This year it might be a little different. No real round or year is the same.”
He shot rounds of 69, 69, 70 and 72 last year to finish eight under – five behind the champion Tiger Woods from the United States.
He says: “I am thankful I had an opportunity to play well last year and enjoy the Masters experience. I can’t really expect to finish as high as I did again but if I put the pieces together and execute my game plan I have every chance to be there again come Sunday. It’s one of the golf courses that suits my game. It lends itself to a strong putter.”
Harding spent lockdown in London, where he is living with his girlfriend, before playing on the UK Swing of the European Tour.
“It has been pretty solid this year. It’s not been terrible, it’s not been fantastic. I have showed signs of being there and there about. I have been competing, I have had a couple of third place finishes. Felt like I could have got over the line in one or two of them but I haven’t quite put together a good enough Sunday. It’s just one of those things when it’s been a bit of a stop start season so it’s been a bit tricky to maintain form. I think that is kind of the case for a lot of the guys.”
The 34-year-old tees off today at 12.05 am Singapore Time with Japan’s Shugo Imahira and Canadian Nick Taylor.
He enjoyed an outstanding run over the last two years, winning the Bank BRI Indonesia Open and Royal Cup in Thailand back-to-back on the Asian Tour in 2018, before winning the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters last year for his maiden title on the European Tour.
He says: “In 2018 and 2019 it was one of those remarkable things when I couldn’t play bad. I went through an unbelievable stretch of form where I maintained it and consistently posted results. I would like to get back there and it feels like I am on the road to doing so. I have stabilized the golf swing and tried to hit a little less bad shots. I think that is the most important things about golf, minimizing the amount of bad shots you hit. It’s normally the guy who makes the least amount of bogeys that wins.”