With an unprecedented 18 Asian Tour wins and over 30 professional titles in total under his belt, Thai legend Thaworn Wiratchant is still continuously building on his legacy.
Just last week, at age of 54, he impressively notched another victory on the Thailand Champions Tour after winning by two shots over fellow veteran Prayad Marksaeng, in Pattaya.
And, last July, the master of the unorthodox swing even held off the young guns on home soil to win the event hosted by Thongchai Jaidee, for his eighth title on the All Thailand Golf Tour.
Last week marked the 16th anniversary of arguably the biggest victory of his career at the Indonesia Open – his only triumph in an event joint sanctioned by the Asia and European Tours – Thaworn shares the secret to his long-term success and how he feels about the mark he is leaving in Asian golf, following his 34 years in professional golf.
1) How have you been during the pandemic? Where were you and did you play golf?
During the pandemic, I renovated my house and I built another golf practice room because the driving range was closed during lockdown. I have a golf simulator, a putting area and a fitness corner set up in that room.
2) You won Thongchai’s event last year. What is the secret to your ability to keep winning as you get older? Special diet, special workout?
What I did 10-15 years ago, I still do the same today. I may have some regression, but I keep working out and practicing the same. When I was young, I wanted to be successful, so discipline and consistency in practicing is very important for me. This is a career. If we are more diligent than others, we will play better than anyone else. It’s a lot more about skill than luck.
3) At the start of your career on the Asian Tour, did you ever think you would win a record 18 titles?
I did not think about that. The first time I joined the Asian Tour, I could not even make the cut. I never thought I would come this far. However, there were not too many players in the Asian Tour at that time, so I could keep the card. Although I was a two-time Order of Merit winner, I could not get many sponsors. It was fortunate that I had a main sponsor and especially Thai golfers have been supported long-term by Boonrawd Brewery (Singha Corporation). The players are looked after by Singha even after they are done with their playing careers. Although I have not got income from other sponsors, I collected money from my performances. Diligence is the key to my success.
4) What do you consider your greatest win?
I won my first Asian Tour title at the 1996 Sabah Masters. I remember it was the day Somdet Phra Srinagarindra Boromrajajonani (Thai Royal Grandmother) passed away. I heard about her passing just before I teed off, so I prayed to her that I want to win. I wanted to do something proud for my country. I wanted to bring the trophy back to Thailand.
After I won my first title, I just felt like I could win more. But then I waited a long time to win again, which was in 2001. At that time, I knew my skill was not good enough and I did not practice enough. There were lots of great golfers out there but I knew my time would come. So I just kept practicing to make myself a better player.
5) Do you think it was your amazing short game that helped you win so many times or was it more your mental strength?
Not at all, it depends on practicing. If you want to have a good short game, it requires practicing and imagination. Imagine a golf ball being hit the right distance, height, and with the correct amount of spin. But I cannot advise you because you have to find out yourself.
6) Who was your golfing idol growing up?
When I was a national player, my idol was Tom Watson. I also like Jack Niklaus. They are legends. In Thailand, my idol is Boonchu Ruangkit who was my golf mentor as well. Not many people know that he taught me when I worked at the Royal Army Golf Course. At that time, he was a national player, he practiced at the Royal Army Golf Course. When he took a break from practicing, he would give me advice as well. When he turned pro, I would caddy for him whenever he came to play golf at the Royal Army Golf Course.
7) What are your plans and objectives in the future?
I still want to keep playing. I also look forward to playing in Japan and Europe again on the Senior Tours.
8) When do you think you will stop playing and retire?
I have not thought about this yet. I still enjoy playing. Although playing with young players is hard and it’s tiring to try to make cut, I still enjoy playing every time. Also, there are senior events to play so I am still having a lot of fun on the course.
9) Will you host an event yourself like Boonchu and Thongchai?
Many people have asked me about this but I will have to discuss with my main sponsor, Boonrawd Brewery first. Many people have shown their support that I can host my own event. But to me, it’s a fifty-fifty chance. It’s not easy organizing a tournament.
10) Who are the young Thai players coming through now who you think are the best?
There are many young talent players such as Gunn Charoenkul, Danthai Boonma, Pavit Tangkamolprasert and Sadom Kaewkanjana. It’s difficult to say who is the best. They all have similar skills and have their own way of practising.
Most players on the Asian Tour think that Thai golfers are strong. There are always three to four Thais in every top-10. I admit that Thai golfers are very good and fortunate because we have many tournaments to play here in Thailand. These tournaments allow Thai players to sharpen their skills and gain playing experience. However, you will have to stay disciplined and ensure consistency in practicing. If you are diligent, you will go a long way.