Kuala Lumpur: Asia’s newest teenage young guns, Miguel Tabuena of the Philippines and Thailand’s Atiwit Janewattananond will take a shot at history when they compete in the SAIL Open in India later this month.
Highly rated Tabuena, 16, and and 15-year-old Atiwit will feature in the US$300,000 tournament co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour and PGTI.
If one of them upset the odds and produce a victory, he will become the youngest winner on the Asian Tour, eclipsing the current record held by Thailand’s Chinnarat Phadungsil who won at the age of 17 years and five days in 2004.
Tabuena, a silver medallist at the Asian Games last year, showed his immense potential when he earned his Asian Tour card by finishing tied 21st at the Qualifying School Finals, one of the toughest tests in golf.
Coached by Asian Tour veteran Rick Gibson of Canada, the Filipino has decided to take the plunge into the play-for-pay ranks and will make his highly anticipated professional debut at the Delhi Golf Club from March 22-25.
His ultimate aim is to emulate the success of Filipino golf legend Frankie Minoza, a multiple winner in Asia and Japan.
“I look up to Frankie because he has a great attitude. He doesn’t get too mad and doesn’t get too happy while playing. I want to have that same kind of attitude when I play. He always tells me to play my best and accept the rest as they come,” said Tabuena.
Tabuena was on course to win the Philippine Open last year when he tied for the lead going into the final round but settled for fourth place. He knows the Asian Tour will provide a good platform for him to become a top player and join countrymen Angelo Que, Juvic Pagunsan and Artemio Murakami as Asian Tour champions.
“I played in the Qualifying School because I wanted to see how I fared against the other players and see how I can improve my game. Now, I will get to play on the Asian Tour which is an important step in my career,” he said.
Atiwit, who will play in the SAIL Open on a sponsor’s invite, has already played his way into the history books when he became the youngest ever to make the halfway cut in an Asian Tour tournament at the age of 14 years and 71 days at the Asian Tour International in Bangkok last year.
He subsequently turned professional and made an impression by finishing tied 44th at the King’s Cup on home soil and went on to finish 23rd in the Johnnie Walker Cambodian Open where he was in contention at the halfway stage.
The teenagers’ dreams will be put to the test as a strong line-up of Asian Tour stars, who include Singaporean veteran Mardan Mamat, South African James Kamte and Australia’s Scott Hend will feature in the SAIL Open.
Last year, Noh Seung-yul of Korea emerged as the youngest ever Asian Tour Order of Merit champion at the age of 19 years and 204 days.
Photos - Asian Tour
Asian Tour GolfGreedy.com