Gunn Charoenkul takes two minutes

Gunn Charoenkul has two wins and two runner-up finishes in 18 starts on PGA TOUR Series-China. (PGA TOUR Series-China)

In three PGA TOUR Series-China seasons, Thailand’s Gunn Charoenkul has been incredibly consistent. He’s played in 18 tournaments, including the Clearwater Bay Open in Hong Kong, the Series’ lone event in 2017. In those 18 tournaments, Charoenkul has two victories, two runner-up finishes, four total top-10s and has been in the top 25 72 percent of the time (13 total). Since turning pro in 2014, Charoenkul has those two wins in China and five victories in Thailand. Besides that success, Charoenkul has top-10s on the Asian Tour, the PGA Tour of Australasia and the Japan Golf Tour. He hopes the Tour is in his future, and he discussed playing in the U.S., his girlfriend serving as his caddie and the confidence she provides him.

I will play every tournament on PGA TOUR Series-China in 2018. I want to be right here on this Tour. I want to finish top five (on the Order of Merit) to get to the Tour.

I’ve watched the players I’ve played against on PGA TOUR China out there on the Tour playing and making it to the PGA TOUR. Seeing Marty Dou winning on the Web and (Xinjun) Zhang move on to the PGA TOUR has made me want to practice harder. Deep down, I think I can make it as well because I’ve beaten them a couple of times, and they’ve beaten me a couple of times. I just have to get all parts of my game stronger.

It might be lonely, I guess, playing in the U.S. I can’t take my girlfriend with me. She has a good job in Bangkok. So I’ll just have to see what happens. I know I need to finish top five in money first on PGA TOUR China.

My girlfriend, Koyy, still caddies for me once in a while. In the first year she caddied for me, to be honest we kind of struggled a little bit. I was struggling with my game, and she doesn’t fully understand golf. She’s good at carrying the bag but not with the other stuff. But I’ve always been the kind of guy who lacks confidence, and she’s my go-to girl with that. She gives me confidence. She doesn’t help me read the greens, but she does help ease the tension down a little and encourage me.

Some people say I have a good swing, but I’ve never really appreciated it. But Koyy keeps telling me over and over that I’m a good player. What she says really helps.

I think believing in myself is one of my weaknesses. I focus on the bad stuff too much. Coming down the stretch (of a tournament), and I know I have a chance to win I might think to myself, If I don’t win, that’s OK. But she would tell me I have to go for the win. I sometimes look to see what the cutline is, and she’s telling me I need to look at what it will take to win. I think that kind of thinking by me has maybe limited my performance.

I practice out of Panya Indra Golf Club. It’s about 15 minutes from my home in Bangkok. It’s a very crowded public golf course, and is very busy from early in the morning. It’s a golf course for poor people, and that is where I play. But I grew up in Phuket, playing at a Navy golf course, Tublamu Navy Golf Course. The course is operated by the Royal Thai Navy.

Of the American courses I’ve played, Torrey Pines is my favorite. I played the South Course right after the U.S. Open. I didn’t play that well, but I really loved it. If I do make the Tour, I think I will live in Florida. I’ve been talking to my friends who live there, and they tell me different things. Where in Florida, I have no clue. I can’t think about that until I make the top five, right?

When I went to the Tour Q School (in 2016), everybody was bombing it. That took me back a little bit. The players are great, and there is a lot of depth. Orange County National in Orlando is over 7,000 yards, and there is very little roll. My long irons aren’t the best part of my game. So that was a challenge.

Thailand golf is in the process of growing. But there aren’t many companies out there that are willing to support golf as a major sport. Most of the sports supported are the big commercial sports like soccer and volleyball. But women’s golf is becoming popular. You see Ariya (Jutanugarn) out there playing well on the LPGA. She made it to No. 1 in the world. There are no Thai players on the PGA TOUR. I hope to be the first one. 


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