Sentosa, Singapore, April 30: When Thailand’s Gunn Charoenkul played his rookie season on the Asian Tour back in 2012, he easily kept his card right away by finishing 32nd on the Order of Merit with over US$130,000 in earnings.
The Thai, who recently welcomed the arrival of his baby daughter, followed it up with a solid season the next year finishing 45th, but after losing his card in 2014, he would spend much of the next five years away from the Asian Tour.
Although we did not see much of him on the Asian Tour in 2019, playing only three events, Gunn featured near the top of the leaderboards on Sunday afternoons each time he teed it up.
The Thai currently has one of the most impressive stretches of events going of any Asian Tour player, dating all the way back to Qualifying School in late 2018 where he finished runner-up after shooting a final round of 10-under-par 61.
After starting the 2019 season with a tied-seventh in the SMBC Singapore Open, he opted to play mainly on the Japan Golf Tour and PGA Tour Series China before coming back to the Asian Tour for the BNI Indonesian Masters and Thailand Masters late in the year. Gunn continued his great form and finished second to Jazz Janewattananond in Jakarta and fifth in Pattaya respectively.
While Gunn did not play enough events to count on the Order of Merit last year, his nearly US$130,000 in earnings would have been good enough to finish 23rd in the rankings while playing only three official Asian Tour events.
Starting the 2020 Asian Tour season in much the same fashion as he finished last year, Gunn has already posted a solo-third place in the Hong Kong Open, a tied-14th and tied-13th in the SMBC Singapore Open and Bandar Malaysia Open respectively, and banked over US$91,000 in earnings in three events.
In the 34 Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) events he has played since the start of 2019, he has posted 20 top-10s (58.82%) and seven top-fives (20.59%). Very impressive numbers that have brought him to a current OWGR ranking of 132nd.
By the numbers
While it would not be fair to compare Gunn’s stats based on only 12 rounds played last year to players that fulfilled the minimum requirement, they still show how he was able to make such a big impact playing a very limited schedule on the Asian Tour.
For example, his 2019 scoring average of 67.75 (-3.58 per round) was half a stroke better than Order of Merit winner Jazz who won the scoring average title with 68.28 per round.
It should be noted that on the Japan Golf Tour where Gunn played 67 rounds and 18 tournaments last year, he finished second in this stat category with an average score of 69.57 (non-adjusted scoring average).
A large part in being able to shoot those low scores was likely Gunn’s ability to hit a lot of greens-in-regulation, averaging 84.26% in his 12 rounds played in 2019. That is over 15 greens per round where he had a chance to putt for birdie, and again this would have led the Tour if his stats would have been official.
On the Japan Golf Tour, Gunn led this statistic with 73.63% last year ahead of Money Leader Shugo Imahira in second place with 72.04%.
Birdies per Round
Speaking of having a lot of chances to putt for birdies – Gunn clearly took advantage of hitting all those greens in regulation last year, racking up just over five birdies per round. For comparison, last year’s birdie leader Jazz made exactly 5.00 birdies in the 53 rounds he played on the Asian Tour in 2019.
Missing just under three greens per round on average combined with good skills around the greens is a sure way to keep bogeys off the card. Of the 2.83 greens that Gunn missed per round last year, he got it up-and-down on 1.83 of them.
If Gunn can keep these numbers up and playing like he’s been after the COVID-19 situation normalizes, a first Asian Tour victory could come soon. For now though, he will have to focus on staying healthy and spending time with family including his new baby daughter.