‘He’s 14 years old. Let that sink in. 14!’ Meet the kid who’s beating pros at the Saudi International

Ratchanon Chantananuwat hits a shot on Friday on the 16th hole at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club.

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No less of a professional than Lee Westwood hyped his upcoming playing partner on his Instagram story on Friday, and when Lee Westwood hypes an upcoming playing partner anywhere, let alone on an Instagram story, you better believe the hype. 

“One of my playing partners is this young man. @TK.RATCHANON.GOLF” Westwood wrote. He’s 14 years old. Let that sink in. 14!!!”

Westwood, he of Ryder Cup and international fame, taking to time to find a photo of Ratchanon Chantananuwat and type in 108 characters about the 14-year-old? Let that sink in too. But the excitement is not exaggerated. 

Two years into his teens, Chantananuwat will play on the weekend at the Saudi International, along with a host of more established pros, including Xander Schauffele, Patrick Reed, Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson. Chantananuwat will also play two more rounds with Westwood, Ian Poulter, Sergio Garcia and Tony Finau, who are all tied with him, at even par through 36; and Paul Casey, Marc Leishman and Victor Perez, who are all behind him. Six years before he turns 20, Chantananuwat has now played in five Asian Tour events, and now made five Asian Tour cuts. And at the age of 14, Chantananuwat — who goes by ‘TK,’ which are the initials of his parents — may be just getting started. 

Just ask Westwood. 

Here’s a little more on TK, who won’t turn 15 until March, won’t graduate from the Shrewsbury International School Of Bangkok until 2025 and may make more than a cut at a star-studded professional tournament very, very soon. 

He is the world’s 54th-ranked amateur — and is 463rd in the Official World Golf Rankings 

Chantananuwat is ranked 54th in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, and according to the WAGR’s site, he’s played in 16 events that have counted toward his mark over the past two years. 

His first pro event in that span came at the Singha Pattaya Open on the All Thailand Golf Tour in the middle of August 2020, where, at the age of 13, he finished 36th, with rounds of 68, 70, 67 and 70. After winning a pair of junior events toward the end of 2020 — the TJDT Invitational on the Thai Junior Development Tour and the Faldo Series Thailand Championship — he’s played in only professional events since. 

Chantananuwat made his debut on the Asian Tour late last November at the Blue Canyon Phuket Championship, where he finished 15th, with scores of 71, 72 — and an impressive 68 and 65 on the weekend. Before this week, he played in three other Asian Tour events, finishing 30th at the Laguna Phuket Championship, third at the Singapore International, and 34th at the Singapore Open.  

Wait, he’s finished third on the Asian Tour? Actually, he almost won 

Back to that third at the Singapore International, played in the middle of last month. According to the South China Morning Post, Chantananuwat actually led during the final round, after playing his front nine at five-under, but sputtered at the end and missed a playoff by two shots. 

“People will look at those scores online, see those dropped shots, and think I played badly, but I didn’t. I was trying so hard and playing well,” Ratchanon told the Morning Post.

According to the website golfcompendium.com, the youngest winner of a men’s professional event that awarded world ranking points is Josh Hill, who, at the age of 15, won the Al Ain Open in 2019 on the Mena Tour. The youngest women’s winner is Atthaya Thitikul, who, at the age of 14, won the Ladies European Thailand Open in 2017.

His coach is a former winner on the then-Nike Tour 

Chantananuwat’s coach is Ahmad Bateman, a 60-year-old Canadian who won the Carolina Classic in 1997 on the then-Nike Tour (and now Korn Ferry Tour). He’s now based in Bangkok and operates Ahmad Bateman Coaching

As you can see below, he’s plenty proud of one of his star pupils, too. 

Tiger is his golfing idol. As is a Thailand legend

Seemingly like most every golfer these days, Chantananuwat lists Tiger Woods as his golf idol, telling the Bangkok Post in 2012, at the age of 5 (more on that in a sec): “In fact, there are many golf players I look up to, but when they win, I like them even more. Tiger is my favorite because he is one of the most successful and I want to follow in his footsteps.”

But as he’s reached his teens, Chantananuwat has also leaned on fellow Thailand golfer Thongchai Jaidee, who is the Asian Tour’s career money leader. 

“The advice I’ve taken from most of them is to have fun out there,” he told thephuketnews.com. “I’m still an amateur … so I won’t pressure myself too much. My golfing idol is Thongchai Jaidee. I’m lucky I got to practice with him and experience golf with him. He’s not just a great golfer who’s won multiple times on the Asian Tour, he’s also a really nice guy and he definitely tries to share what he has with me, and I think I’m lucky with that, and it’s really very valuable.”

Chantananuwat was featured in a story — at the age of 5

The Bangkok Post saw all this coming — just under 10 years ago. 

In a feature published in August of 2012 and entitled “TK follows Tiger’s tracks,” Paisit Sukhtipyaroge wrote how Chantananuwat “began to show promise as a budding golfer at the age of 3,” that Chantananuwat had already made two holes in one and that he was practicing “between three and five hours each day.”

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Still, Chantananuwat’s dad, Tara, told the Post: “I often ask TK if he is really interested in pursuing golf, because if he’s not, I don’t want to force him.”

“He seems like he’s still enjoying the game,” Tara told the Post. “There’s still a lot TK is learning about competitive sports, especially at times when he doesn’t win. He is learning that in sports one has to learn to lose as well.”

He’s on social media. (Of course he is!) 

Chantananuwat has a presence on social media, albeit a small one. At tk.ratchanon.golf on Instagram, he’s posted five times, and all are either swing photos or swing videos. 

He’s also at tk.ratchanon, and at @ratchanon_tk on Twitter. But both accounts are private. That’s probably for the best. 

What does his swing look like? What does he sound like? Have a look. 

In the middle of last month, the Asian Tour filmed a short interview with Chantananuwat and captured a few of his swings. As mature as his game is, his insights into it are equally so. His complete words:

“The harder you practice, the luckier you get. So yeah, that’s pretty much it. 

“Hi, I’m ‘TK’ Ratchanon Chantananuwat, and I’m 14 years old. I have been golfing since I was three and a half years old, so that would be 10 and a half years already. My dad is mainly just focusing on my golf. He also pushes me a lot. I’m only at this stage really fast at 14 is because my dad has always had really high expectations and whenever I accomplish something, he just moves on to the next. And he has goals that other kids or parents don’t even think of. The only thing he believes in is hitting balls, most of the time. Like, yeah, but it’s true, like, well, because the more you practice the better you get. So it seems like the luckier you get. The harder you practice, you get rewarded. OK, sometimes maybe it’s not just 10 good shots in a row, but sometimes it’s a good kick off the fringe, like really close to the hole. I think that’s what hard work gets you as well. 

“When I’m in the zone, I think all I see is my ball and the hole and what’s in between. I just go with feel. Sometimes my swing could look one way and I’d still hit it like really good because sometimes I compensate.” 

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Nick Piastowski

Nick Piastowski

Golf.com Editor

Nick Piastowski is a Senior Editor at Golf.com and Golf Magazine. In his role, he is responsible for editing, writing and developing stories across the golf space. And when he’s not writing about ways to hit the golf ball farther and straighter, the Milwaukee native is probably playing the game, hitting the ball left, right and short, and drinking a cold beer to wash away his score. You can reach out to him about any of these topics — his stories, his game or his beers — at nick.piastowski@golf.com.