Teenage phenom Jazz Janewattananond hopes to barge down the door toward a first Asian Tour victory when he returns to the US$1 million Resorts World Manila Masters starting today.
The talented 19-year-old Thai, who is currently 14th on the Order of Merit, is almost certain to enjoy his best season as a professional golfer but knows that a maiden Asian Tour victory would be the cherry on the cake.
Jazz is amongst a strong cast of Asian Tour stars who will tee up at the Manila Southwoods Golf and Country Club from November 19 to 22 in what is the richest golf tournament in the Philippines.
Other top names headlining the third edition of the Resorts World Manila Masters include title holder Mardan Mamat of Singapore, India’s S.S.P. Chawrasia, former Asian Tour number ones Arjun Atwal and Jeev Milkha Singh of India and big-hitting Australian Scott Hend, who is currently second on the Order of Merit.
Jazz, who holds the record of being the youngest player to make a cut in an Asian Tour event, has posted two top-10s and four top-25s this season but hopes to join the winner’s circle soon.
“You can never know when the first win will come. I’m trying to knock on every door and trying to give myself a chance every week. I played well in the Resorts World Manila Masters two years ago and I hope to play my best there again and hopefully the win will come,” said Jazz.
Manila Southwoods holds fond memories for the young and slender Thai as his first overseas top-five finish on the Asian Tour was achieved at the Resorts World Manila Masters two years ago.
He believes he is now a stronger golfer and has a wider array of shots in his bag to steer him towards a win which will allow him sing a happy tune.
“It was one of my first events that I really played well. It gave me a lot of confidence as I locked my card there in 2013,” recalled Jazz. “Two years ago, there were shots I couldn’t hit. Now, I’m playing better and have more shots in my bag. I can shape my shots better and on that golf course which is a good Jack Nicklaus design, I need to hit high cuts into the greens. Previously, I couldn’t hit those shot too well but I can do it better now.”
The 42-year-old Atwal, Asia’s number one in 2003, is hoping to hit top form towards the end of the year as was the case last season when he won the Dubai Open. He finished tied 33rd in last year’s Resorts World Manila Masters but hopes to make a bigger impact next week.
“It’s coming and going in spurts this year. In the summer, I played well in the U.S. but couldn’t finish off tournaments. It’s been a testing year. I thought I’d be playing better (after winning in Dubai) but it hasn’t happened. I just have to get a bit more consistent. The game is there but I’m not consistent enough. There’s nothing wrong. Just need four rounds of not making mistakes,” said Atwal, who is the first Indian to win on the PGA Tour.
He said Manila Southwoods will present a good test to the players. “The course is always in good shape. It’s not extremely demanding and there are birdie holes but you’ve got to drive it pretty good. It gets pretty windy as well, which will be a test for us,” said Atwal.
Countryman S.S.P. Chawrasia, fourth on the Order of Merit, is aiming to win a first Asian Tour title outside of India where his three triumphs have all been on home soil. He enjoyed a top-20 at the inaugural edition of the Resorts World Manila Masters two years ago.
“My season has been excellent. I’ve played some good events at the start of the year with a top-10 in Malaysia and then I lost in play-off at the Hero Indian Open,” said the 37-year-old.
“It would be great to have one win or even two before the season concludes. We’ve got some big events coming up including the Resorts World Manila Masters. I’ve never won outside of India, so I would love to win in the Philippines if I can.”