Bethpage fans are *trying* to cheer for Jazz Janewattananond. It’s not going well

May 17, 2019
Jazz Janewattananond

FARMINGDALE, N.Y. — With all due respect to Brooks Koepka, Tommy Fleetwood and Jordan Spieth, they can’t come within a full 3-wood of the best name on the leaderboard at this 101st PGA Championship. It’s Atiwit Janewattananond, and he’s got the coolest nickname this side of Eldrick Tiger Woods. It’s “Jazz.” Jazz! Madison Avenue is less than hour’s drive from here, and Jazz’s name is made for the bright lights of Midtown Manhattan. Shall we learn more about this young pro? Here’s a primer:

So, who is this guy?

Jazz Janewattananond is 23 years old and calls Bangkok home. He splits his time on the Asian and European tours, and he’s currently in the top 10 here at the PGA Championship after opening 70-68.

Does this make him Thailand’s most famous golfer? Or does that title still belong to Kiradech Aphibarnrat?

Nah, Barnrat’s still the guy — dude even has his own memes — but Jazz is no slouch. While Kiradech is, um, more of a “robust” pro, Jazz has the physique of a 4-iron. And this kid can play. He’s currently ranked 72nd in the world.

Has he, you know, won anything?

In January the Jazz-man won the Asian Tour’s Singapore Open, beating Paul Casey by two shots and Sergio Garcia by 10. He also has two other Asian Tour titles. And again, he’s only 23. You might want to learn how to spell his name.

Spell it? I can’t even say it. How do you pronounce it?

Exactly like it’s spelled.

That’s helpful.

I detect some sarcasm.

I’m sorry if my questions have interrupted your mid-day snack in the press center.

No problem, but you know golf writers need six square meals plus four snacks a day to keep the energy up. Here’s my best attempt at phonetically pronouncing Jazz’s last name: “Jan-eh-whot-en-na-nond.”

Let’s move on. Does he have a shot this week?

Look, probably not. This is only the second major championship of his career. He missed the cut at last year’s British Open. But he’s in the field this week because of his world ranking, and he has the look of a player on the rise. Just put him on your radar.

How’d he get that nickname?

It’s from his dad, who loves jazz music. Jazz says he didn’t inherit any of his father’s musicality, but the name stuck.

Did Jazz have anything interesting to say on Friday?

As a matter of fact, yes. When he was asked about the New York fans, he said this: “I love it. My first time ever getting a crowd like this, shouting my name. I don’t know how to react to it. This is my first time for the shouting. They give me some really funny names. I try not to remember it. They did try [to pronounce my name]. It didn’t come out right.”

OK, you got me. I’ll keep an eye on him tomorrow.

That’s all I can ask for. Anything else?

What are they serving for snacks today?

Anitpasto, pizza-bagel bites and a bottomless supply of chocolate chip cookies. Thanks for asking.

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