The second stop on the Phuket leg of the Asian Tour is the Laguna Phuket Championship 2021.
The event gets underway on Thursday, 2 December, and as it stands, will cap off the interrupted 2020/2021 season. However, according to the Bangkok Post, the Tour aims to host two additional tournaments in Singapore in early 2022, to finalize the Order of Merit (OOM) standings.
Out of the 144 Pros from 25-countries on the tee sheets, Jazz Janewattananond and Nicolas Colsaerts are the most recognizable names.
If Wade Ormsby finishes strongly at the Phuket Blue Canyon Championship, the OOM title should be his. However, a week showing at the Canyon course could open the door for Janewattananond, Trevor Simsby, Brad Kennedy or Jarin Todd to bag the Grand Prize.
Let us take a closer look at what is at stake as the Tour heads to Laguna.
The Asian Tour Phuket Series
After a pause in proceedings on the Asian Tour in March 2020, the board unveiled plans for a two-leg series on the tropical island of Phuket. If you fancy a detailed overview of the series, you can read more here.
The series comprises The Blue Canyon Phuket Championship and the Laguna Phuket Championship.
Although there are plans for two additional tournaments in Singapore in 2022, nothing is confirmed. And as it stands, this may be the final chance for the players to improve their season ranking.
The man to beat for the overall crown is Australian Wade Ormsby, who is $47,000 clear of his nearest challenger, American, Trevor Simsby. Thai legend Jazz is $114,000 off of Ormsby’s season earnings and needs a win in one of the two events to retain the title he won in 2019.
Before the Laguna Phuket Championship kicks off on 2 December, the Asian Tour stops at Blue Canyon Resort. The course has hosted players such as Tiger Woods, Ernie Els and Greg Norman.
For a closer look at our picks and information for that event, you can read our Blue Canyon Phuket Championship preview.
When the Asian Tour last stopped at the Laguna golf course, Argentine Miguel Carballo claimed The Singha Laguna Phuket Open with a total score of -15. Although that was an Asian Development Tour event, a few of those players will journey to Phuket.
Recently the course hosted the All Thailand Golf Tour in early October for the Singha Laguna Phuket Open. On that occasion, Sadom Kaewkanjana claimed a four-shot victory to bag his first of two wins this season.
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Laguna Phuket Golf Course
The Laguna Phuket Golf Course opened for business in 1993 but underwent renovations in 2014. The mission of renowned golf course architect Paul Jansen was to increase the difficulty of the layout to challenge the best in the game.
In 2015 the course re-opened, and it has hosted All Thailand Golf Tour events since 2017.
Laguna Phuket Golf Course Design
Off the club tees, the course plays as a Par 71. However, for professional tournaments, it becomes a Par 70. The 7th hole, which is usually a Par 5, is reduced to a long par 4.
In total, the 6,770-yard layout is shorter than the average PGA Tour layout, meaning that you cannot underestimate shorter hitters.
This Phuket layout features numerous lagoons. Any wayward strikes will lead to a penalty stroke and the risk of a couple of drop shots.
In addition to spectacular vistas of lagoons and wildlife is the unique matter of five par 3 holes. Three of them feature on the front nine, while the most daunting of all of them arrive at hole 16. A 233-yard tee shot requires accuracy as the green is protected completely shielded by bunkers.
As is the case at many courses on the Asian Tour, the fairways and rough consist of Zoysia Matrella grass, while the greens are TifEagle grass.
This soft turf favours players with a shallower angle of attack, who catches the ball first before the ground. Steeper attack angles are susceptible to catching their ball fat.
Finally, the TifEagle grass promotes a purer roll, with minimal bounce, optimizing Pros distance control and accuracy on the greens.
Key Trends To Consider
The presence of five par 3 holes make greens in regulation and a key factor for success at Laguna. Missing the dancefloor will be an exceptional chipping game to make a birdie. As it stands, Jazz Janewattananond is the leading player on Tour for greens in regulation.
The next trend to consider is driving accuracy. This course is relatively short, but any wayward drives may land in the drink and result in a one-stroke penalty. American Trevor Simsby currently holds top honours for accuracy off the tee.
Finally, a solid putting average will help Pros maximize their one-putts to improve their birdie average.
Players To Watch
I have spoken highly about the legend that is Jazz Janewattananond, and he is worth considering as a pick for this tournament. However, it is also necessary to shine the spotlight on other contenders from the Kingdom.
Sadom Kaewkanjana is a player I have followed closely this year, and he has not let me down.
In his last six appearances, he has finished in the top ten on every occasion. Including two wins in his past three events. One of those victories came at the Singha Laguna Phuket Open back in October.
After becoming the youngest winner on the ASEAN PGA Tour at fourteen, Phachara has come into his own this season.
In his last three appearances on the All Thailand Golf Tour, he claimed two wins and a tie for third. His tie for third came behind Kaewkanjana at the Thailand Open in November.
At 22, Khongwatmai has a lot to learn, but he has the potential and support of the home crowd as the Tour heads to Phuket.
Notable International Players
The Belgian will want to forget 2021 in a hurry, with only two top twenty finishes to his name and three times as many missed cuts. However, he is a better player than his world ranking suggests, and if he can pull it together will challenge the scorers.
With three European Tour titles to his name, Colsaerts knows how to win, and maybe the relaxing environment of Phuket is what he needs to end the year off on a high.
Final Thoughts on the Laguna Phuket Championship 2021
The Laguna Phuket Championship is potentially the last event on the Asian Tour calendar for the 2020/2021 season. It could be the last chance for players to climb the OOM rankings to guarantee their spot on Tour next season.