European Tour, 19 May 2019: Jazz Janewattananond believes his time spent as a monk helped him develop the golf game that has put him in contention for Major glory at the US PGA Championship.
The 23-year-old will need something special to overturn a seven-shot deficit and beat runaway leader Brooks Koepka in the final round on Sunday but an excellent 67 on day three put him among the nearest challengers at Bethpage State Park BK Course.
And if he does win a maiden Major Championship and European Tour title, he will give some of the credit to two weeks spent as a monk in his native Thailand in 2016.
Following the death of Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the then 21-year-old took a break from professional golf to live with the monks, and he revealed he gained a new perspective even in a short time.
“Every Thai or every Buddhist, if you’re that religion, you have to go and do it when you turn 21 and I did that,” he said.
“The last king had passed away, that was just for the king.
“I didn’t expect it to be better for myself but it turns out it made me more peaceful, not trying as hard on the golf course because there are so many other big things around our lives.”
Janewattananond was the youngest player to make the cut on the Asian Tour aged just 14, turning professional at 15, and he has not looked back since.
He has three Asian Tour wins and spectacularly chipped in at the final hole to earn his European Tour card at the Qualifying School in 2018.
It made me more peaceful, not trying as hard on the golf course because there’s so many other big things around our lives – Jazz Janewattananond
He played in The Open Championship last season and finished third at the Maybank Championship in March and while he admits he was daunted by the prospect of Bethpage Black when he arrived on Long Island, those fears have now been put to rest.
“I arrived here on Monday and it was raining, Tuesday it was raining,” he said. “The course plays so tough because the rough was so long, the ball didn’t go anywhere.
“I was having a nightmare. How am I going to play this golf course? I’m not going to break 80. This has exceeded my expectations already.
“This is my first time on the east coast and it’s next level. It’s so different, I love it. People keep shouting I love you. They love me here.”