So last night, I was skimming the leaderboard for the CIMB Asia Pacific Classic Malaysia being played at the MINES Resort & Golf Club in Selangor, Malaysia, just north of Kuala Lumpur. It was mid-round and I was looking for a mastery story for today’s post. One of the nice things about tournaments on the other side of the world is that you get a little lead time to think about things.
Anyway, about a quarter of the way down the 40-player field, this name popped out at me for no other reason than it was the longest name on the board, Pariya Junhasawasdikul. Beyond that, it was interesting because he was from Thailand and I always find it amazing that players we’ve never heard of in the U.S. do so well in international tournaments where the field is heavily populated by American players. The old days of the Ryder Cup when we handily beat everyone in international competitions left us with a benign conceit that has slowly ameliorated itself over the years as golf has spread around the world, but is still there. We still have more great players, we just don’t have all of them.
So I looked further down the board and see Pariya’s fellow countryman, Thongchai Jaidee, whom I had actually seen play in the World Golf Championships and Jack Nicklaus’ Memorial Tournament in this country. I was impressed by what a fearless, aggressive player he seemed to be. Extremely competent.
So I go back to Pariya and click the link to his scorecard. He had a clean, 5-birdie, 66 in the first round and he was already 1-under through 3 holes in the second. So I went to bed thinking that could be a good story, depending on how he did overnight (ours).
This morning, I discovered that Ben Crane was leading the tournament at 11-under…tied with Pariya who shot an 8-birdie, 2-bogey, 65. Geez. Who is this guy?
Thank God for Google. Not only did they have entries under his name, they had two entries under his misspelled name. Although I wonder about that, because the first one was his player page from his days at Purdue University and the second one was a video interview with him on the putting green at the midway point of a tournament in his home country.
Under his properly spelled name I discovered that he is ranked 237th in the world with some impressive finishes: T6 in the Cambodian Open, T6 in the Myanmar Open, T8 in the Brunei Open, 3rd in the Selangor Masters and a win in the Taiwan Masters.
So I watch the video and in perfect, idiomatic English, this is the pearl from the two-minute video when asked about the huge opportunity he faced on the last two days of that tournament:
Yeah, I try to set my mind that whatever the tournament is, no matter how big it is, golf is golf. It’s eighteen holes of golf each day, one shot at a time. You’re playing the golf course, you’re not playing other big names out there. You try to forget who you’re playing against. You go out there and you’re on your own. You go out there and shoot 3-under. The golf ball doesn’t care what name you have, right?
The interviewer said that we all know about the phrase, “one shot at a time,” and, “staying in the moment,” and wondered how difficult it was to do when you’re in contention in a big tournament:
Oh, very. Very. When you make bogey or a couple of bogeys in a row, you try to think ahead of yourself, ‘Oh, [shoot],’ I need to make some birdies coming in. But then, on the other hand, you have to try to keep your head up and say, ‘Okay, just one shot at a time.’ You know, if you hit three good shots on one hole, you’re going to make birdie. So, you gotta stay positive and stay in yourself and not to get ahead of yourself.
It’s like there was an echo in my head.
And the nice thing about Pariya’s interview is that when I started my investigation into our mystery man this morning, it was with the idea of making one point, something we all know but sometimes forget under pressure:
The golf ball doesn’t know who you are.
Which ended up being a paraphrased “pull quote” right out of Pariya’s video. God works in mysterious ways.
One last thing. At the beginning of the tournament, Sportingbet.com (the link to this betting site doesn’t work in the U.S.) had him at 100 to 1 to win the CIMB Asia Pacific Classic. I wonder if they’re squirming a little bit?