Year 11 British International School, Phuket (BISP) golfer Sebastian Sawtell will be flying to Vietnam next month, bound for the Faldo Series Asia Grand Final after finishing runner-up in the 2019-20 Faldo Series Thailand Championship.

Year 11 golfer Sebastian Sawtell (right) with his silver medal in Pattaya

Sebastian sealed a place in the Asia Grand Final after an outstanding performance in the U16 category of the Thailand Series Championship. The trio of qualifying tournaments were held in Phuket, Hua Hin and Pattaya.

At the third and final tournament at the Burapha Golf Club in Pattaya from 24-26 January, Sebastian fought back after being four shots behind the leader with nine holes to go, producing a birdie-eagle, birdie-birdie run of holes to tie the lead. The duel continued, but misfortune at the 18th hole meant Sebastian finished two strokes behind his Bangkok-based opponent but wrapped up the series in an impressive second place. 

Initially out of contention for the 14th Faldo Series Asia Grand Final to be hosted by Sir Nick Faldo at Vietnam’s Laguna Lăng Cô from 4-5 March, last week it was confirmed that Sebastian would be included in the line-up.

BISP Golf Academy head coach, Oliver Bates, said it was Sebastian’s incredible display of sportsmanship in the Thailand Series that caught the attention of the legendary Faldo.

“There was very little in between Seb and the winner and Nick just said Seb was so impressive that he deserved a shot in Vietnam.

“We’re very proud of Seb. He’s really coming along and turning into one of the best players around. It’s great that he now has a chance to contest the Asia Grand Final.”

Year 8 player, Damon, also finished strongly in Pattaya, claiming second place overall in the Nett division. “Damon continues to put in the hard work in training and it’s paying off at tournaments like these,” Coach Oliver said.

“He played very well and will take a lot from his first experience playing in the Thailand Faldo Series.”

Other members of the BISP Golf Academy continue to balance their busy competition schedule with their studies.

Late last year, Year 13 golfer Vanchai Luangnitikul (Mark) capped off a stellar 2019 with a gold medal in the men’s team event at the Southeast Asian Games in the Philippines.

Mark was part of a four-man strong Thailand team who claimed the regional victory at the Luisita Golf and Country Club in Tarlac City on 8 December. 

“Mark is a highly ranked amateur within Thailand and is developing into a world-class player ready to compete at golf’s highest level,” Coach Oliver said. “It will just be a matter of time before Mark takes that next step to the professional game.”

Year 13 golfer, Napat (Toy) Paramacharoenroj, took that step into professional golf last year and in December, regained his professional tour card at Q-school. 

Yr 13 golfer Vanchai Luangnitikul (Mark) with his SEA Games gold medal

Currently studying for his IB Diploma, Toy has recently been offered several opportunities to continue his studies and golfing career at overseas universities come September 2020.

“Toy has various opportunities on the table and it’s now just a case of figuring out which one is the best fit,” said Coach Oliver.

Toy’s best performance last year came at the Singha Pattaya Open in October, where he made the first cut of 60 players.

“Toy is now playing with the best of the best, which is a hard transition, but he is learning, gaining experience and making the necessary adjustments that will allow him to be really competitive.”

Veronica (Year 7)

And female BISP golfers Veronica (Year 7) and Mint (Year 9) are showing good progress at Thailand Golf Association (TGA) events. At last weekend’s TGA Singha junior golf ranking event in Phang Nga, Veronica finished second runner up in the Class C Girls category. Sebastian also finished second in the Class A Boys.

“In difficult playing conditions, I was happy with both players’ results,” said Coach Oliver.

“Veronica’s game is really improving and she is working hard on the mental side of tournament play. Both she and Mint are serious players with the right work ethic. It’s great to have them in the programme and I’m looking forward to seeing what they can do over the next few years.”

At the grassroots level, the BISP golf programme continues to capture many aspiring young minds.

“We have between 40 and 50 students playing golf at different levels. It’s great working with the young ones and seeing their passion and enjoyment for the sport. Among many other things, golf is great for building confidence and making friends,” Coach Oliver said. 

For more information on the BISP Golf Academy, please contact [email protected]