Thailand’s Jazz Janewattananond has emerged as a surprise but legitimate contender for a place in the International Team for the Presidents Cup against the United States at The Royal Melbourne Golf Club later this year.
The 23-year-old claimed his third and biggest career victory yet on the Asian Tour two weeks ago when he won the SMBC Singapore Open which featured several of the game’s leading stars including Paul Casey, Sergio Garcia and World Golf Hall of Famer Davis Love III, all winners on the PGA TOUR.
It was his sixth top-10 finish over his last eight starts stretching back to September which has helped the slender Thai strike the right notes and launch an early challenge for a place in Captain Ernie Els’s International Team where he is presently ranked 12th on the team rankings for the biennial competition which takes place from December 9-15, 2019.
“I saw on Twitter recently that said I had a chance to qualify for the International Team,” said Jazz. “It’s a long-term goal of mine as when you look at the rankings, there are so many top (International) players. If I can continue to play good golf and make it there, it will be a big bonus.”
Jazz recalls watching the 2009 Presidents Cup on TV when Ryo Ishikawa of Japan made the International Team as one of captain Greg Norman’s picks and he knows only too well the lone International victory in the series was secured at Royal Melbourne in 1998 when another Japanese star, Shigeki Maruyama emerged as one of the International Team’s heroes with his 5-0 winning record.
“The Americans are really strong in this format and I want to see the International players beating the Americans this year, and I’ll always be rooting for the International Team,” said Jazz, who is currently ranked 75th in the world.
With his father, who is a judge in Thailand, being an avid golfer, Jazz started hitting golf balls when he was eight. He started competing in one-day tournaments and won age-group events by 10. He turned professional before he was 15 years old after deciding it was a career he wanted to pursue.
“When I was four, I was introduced to swimming and everyone outgrew me. I’m this scrawny kid and I then started playing football (soccer) at six and I was horrible at it. Maybe that’s why I changed to golf and I got really good at 12 and when I was 14, I became the youngest golfer to make the cut in an Asian Tour event (2010 Asian Tour International in Bangkok),” he said.
Jazz comes from a family of scholars, with his sister and cousins studying medicine or are already doctors or judges.
“Almost 10 of my family members are doctors or judges … except me, I’m the weird one. I guess I always liked spending time outdoors, though I was pretty good in school too. Golf has turned out pretty good. When I turned pro, my parents were fully supportive. It’s my job, my life now and I enjoy it. I’m going to do this for rest of my life and hopefully I can be a regular on the PGA TOUR sometime soon,” added the Thai, whose first name is Atiwit but he switched to Jazz in 2013 which is the nickname given by his father – an avid fan of jazz music.
Currently, three Asian players – Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama (4th), Haotong Li of China (5th) and Shugo Imahira of Japan (6th) – are featuring in the top-eight of the International Team rankings for automatic qualification into the International Team. Jazz’s countryman Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who is competing in his first full season on the PGA TOUR, is presently 29th.
Making his first-ever start in the Farmers Insurance Open, Australia’s Adam Scott finished solo second at Torrey Pines and made the biggest move in the International Team Presidents Cup standings from No. 67 to No. 11. A berth in the 2019 Presidents Cup would make Scott the first player to make nine appearances on the International Team, eclipsing Vijay Singh and 2019 Team Captain Ernie Els who have eight appearances.
The Presidents Cup will return to Melbourne, Australia and The Royal Melbourne Golf Club for the third time, December 9-15, 2019, when the International Team, led by Captain Els, will take on the U.S. Team led by Captain Tiger Woods.
Making his fourth start of the 2018-19 PGA TOUR Season, Scott’s runner-up finish was his second top-10 and first since he closed with a 63 on Sunday at the CJ CUP @ NINE BRIDGES to finish T10 last October. The flat stick proved vital for Scott’s success in San Diego, where the 38-year-old finished 14th in Stroked Gained: Putting after making a putter switch ahead of the tournament. Scott went on to need just 28 putts in each of his four rounds.
While Scott finished two back of eventual champion Justin Rose, two other International Team veterans cracked the top 5 at Torrey Pines: Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama (T3) and Australia’s Jason Day (T5).
A two-time champion at the Farmers Insurance Open, Day bookended his tournament with matching 67s for his second top-5 finish of the season and a spot inside the top 10 in the International Team Presidents Cup standings, where the four-time International Team member jumped from No. 13 to No. 9.
Matsuyama vaulted from No. 8 to No. 4 in the standings after notching his first top-5 finish of the season as he looks toward a potential fourth appearance on the International Team. Elsewhere on the leaderboard, Cameron Smith (T9) recorded a 7-under 65 on Sunday to finish with the low round of the day and return to No. 2 in the International Team standings. Marc Leishman remains atop the International Team standings after a T43 finish at the Farmers Insurance Open.
On the U.S. side, Xander Schauffele’s T25 in his hometown event earned him enough FedExCup points to reclaim the top spot fromBryson DeChambeau, who was victorious in Dubai on the European Tour.
The top 15 players in the International and U.S. Presidents Cup Team Standings as of Jan. 28, 2019 are listed below:
Rank Player Country Points
1. Marc Leishman Australia 104.20
- Cameron Smith Australia 82.71
- Louis Oosthuizen South Africa 81.03
- Hideki Matsuyama Japan 72.10
- Abraham Ancer Mexico 71.15
- Haotong Li China 59.57
- Shugo Imahira Japan 54.17
- Shaun Norris South Africa 52.96
- Jason Day Australia 51.38
- Emiliano Grillo Argentina 51.21
- Adam Scott Australia 50.99
- Jazz Janewattananond Thailand 50.81
- Adam Hadwin Canada 44.74
- Lucas Herbert Australia 42.43
- Yuki Inamori Japan 41.77
Rank Player Points
- Xander Schauffele 4,194
- Bryson DeChambeau 4,160
- Justin Thomas 3,934
- Brooks Koepka 3,591
- Dustin Johnson 3,470
- Tony Finau 3,133
- Gary Woodland 2,997
- Matt Kuchar 2,979
- Webb Simpson 2,747
- Patrick Cantlay 2,697
- Charles Howell III 2,536
- Phil Mickelson 2,321
- Patrick Reed 2,228
- Andrew Putnam 2,164
- Bubba Watson 2,126
International Team eligibility criteria
The top eight (8) international players (excluding those eligible for the European Ryder Cup team) from the Presidents Cup International Team Points List which shall be Official World Golf Ranking points accumulated in the time period from August 27, 2018 (Dell Technologies Championship) through August 25, 2019 (TOUR Championship).
Four Captain’s selections will be made at a to-be-determined later date.
U.S. Team eligibility criteria
The top eight (8) U.S. PGA TOUR members who have earned the most FedExCup points from September 11, 2017 (2017 BMW Championship) through 2019 TOUR Championship, weighted as follows:
(a) 2017 BMW Championship through 2018 TOUR Championship: 1 FedExCup point = 1 point
(b) First event of the 2018-2019 season through 2019 TOUR Championship: 1 FedExCup point = 2 points
Four Captain’s selections will be made at a to-be-determined later date.
The return to Melbourne, Australia, will mark the third time in the biennial event’s 25-year history it has been held at the renowned Sandbelt course, as the event was previously held in Melbourne in 1998 and 2011 at The Royal Melbourne Golf Club.
The 2019 Presidents Cup will bring the very best for fans interested in world-class team competition with the top 12 players from the United States taking on the top 12 from across the globe, excluding Europe. While golf fans can expect an incredible atmosphere and unmatched access to the competition, the Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne will be a social, lifestyle and business gathering that will bring all backgrounds and interests together to enjoy a week-long festival atmosphere.
On the course, players from across the world will be celebrated for their achievements, sportsmanship and love of the game. Off the course, fans will be able to find culinary options from around the world as well as hospitality and fan venues to match all levels of spectating and socializing, all while enjoying the very best in Australian culture.
The oldest golf club in Australia, The Royal Melbourne Golf Club was founded in 1891 and moved to its current location in 1926, becoming the anchor of what is now known as the Sandbelt. The gem of Australian golf, The Royal Melbourne Golf Club has two courses, both ranked in the World’s Top 100, which were designed by the legendary Alister MacKenzie.
In 1959, in order to host the first of many international tournaments, 12 holes of the West Course and six from the East Course were combined to create what is known as the Composite Course, which also hosted the 2013 World Cup of Golf, won by Jason Day and Adam Scott.