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Thailand’s Jazz Janewattananond makes music with 68 at PGA Championship

Jazz Janewattananond, of Thailand, drives off the 12th tee during the second round of the PGA Championship golf tournament, Friday, May 17, 2019, at Bethpage Black in Farmingdale, N.Y. (Charles Krupa / Associated Press)
Jazz Janewattananond, of Thailand, drives off the 12th tee during the second round of the PGA Championship golf tournament, Friday, May 17, 2019, at Bethpage Black in Farmingdale, N.Y. (Charles Krupa / Associated Press)
By Tom Canavan Associated Press

FARMINGDALE, N.Y. – The Jazz man from Thailand made some music at the PGA Championship on Friday, and it was really good.

So remember this name: Jazz Janewattananond. He is a 23-year-old playing in his first PGA Championship. He has shot rounds of 70 and 68 and his 2 under total has him on the leaderboard at Bethpage Black, even if his full last name doesn’t fit.

“My expectation was to come out here and have some fun and see what majors are all about,” Janewattananond said. “It’s the first time on the East Coast. I am enjoying myself. I am really happy I put up a good score, so it exceeded my expectations for sure.”

Before talking about his golf game, let’s get to the basics.

His family name is pronounced JANNA’-watta-NON’-nond. Jazz isn’t really his first name. It’s Atiwit, but his father nicknamed him Jazz because the old man preferred that type of music. The son likes music but is not a musician.

Golf is his thing. He is currently first on the Asian Tour Order of Merit with a win and four other top-10 finishes in seven events.

This week has been a blast. He arrived last Friday after a 22-hour flight from Thailand and met up with a friend in New Jersey. They visited New York City on Saturday.

“It kind of wowed me a bit,” said Janewattananond, who is ranked No. 72 in the world. “Maybe I didn’t get over that. That’s why I didn’t feel the pressure.”

When pressed, Janewattananond said the number of people in the city and the so-called concrete jungle were memories he will not forget.

The golf major has left memories, too. The size of the crowd is staggering and he doesn’t know how to react to people shouting his name. The Jazz, he gets. There have been some funny attempts at his last name.

“I try not to remember it,” he said.

Janewattananond has been consistent for 36 holes, with six birdies and four bogeys. When he has found trouble in the tall, thick rough on the public course, he has punched out and found ways to save par. He made par-saving putts of 12 feet on No. 5, 43 feet at No. 9 and 11 feet at 12. He also missed a 9-footer for birdie on his final hole, No. 18.

Club pro Tyler Hall of Upper Montclair Country Club in New Jersey played with Janewattananond the first two rounds and was impressed, especially with his ability to recover.

“That’s what great players in this game can do,” Hall said.

Janewattananond is trying to savor the next few days.

“I am out here without expectations,” he said. “So even if I shoot 90 tomorrow, I won’t mind it. You know, just being here is already good.”

Janewattananond bumped into Tiger Woods on Monday and congratulated him on winning the Masters.

When asked if Woods, whose mother is Thai, knew who he was, Janewattananond laughed.

“He had no idea,” he said. “He probably thought I was some random kid on the range.”

If Janewattananond continues to play well, Woods may get to know him.

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