With her victory in the 2018 Ladies European Thailand Championship in July, Kanyalak Preedasuttijit qualified for membership of the Ladies European Tour. She has since played in the Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open, the Ricoh Women’s British Open and now, the Lacoste Ladies Open de France and she is enjoying her European adventure, writes Richard C Talbot.
Being a professional golfer is often seen as a glamorous occupation but as many players know, there can be difficulties associated with travel, accommodation and finance, especially when you are visiting a new continent.
At the 2018 Ladies European Thailand Championship, the winner Kanyalak “Bew” Preedasuttijit, earned a two year exemption on the Ladies European Tour, including entries into the Ricoh Women’s British Open and Evian Championship. This was great news for Bew, whose ambition is to play in the best competitions around the world.
Above: Kanyalak with the Ricoh Women’s British Open runner-up, Pornanong Phatlum
The main problem was that the Open occurred very quickly after the Thailand win so there was little time for her to get ready. Bew was also advised that it would be better for her if she entered the Scottish Open the week before. This was good advice as trying to play a four day competition on the back of a 13-hour plane journey is difficult. How the golfers from the LET have competed so well in Thailand is a credit to them as travelling east is an even worse experience.
Bew had secured the entries, and her generous sponsors, Singha and the Phoenix Gold Golf and Country Club, had ensured that the cost of the trip would be covered.
All was looking good for Bew except for one slight problem and that was the language difference. Bew speaks a little English, as do her caddie, or her father, who were accompanying her on the trip.
They really needed a chaperone so with this in mind I decided to step in as the thought of Bew’s party being left stranded in Scotland gave me the shivers. I am a retired school teacher who spends his time in Thailand writing for the Thai LPGA website and occasionally for the LET.
Within a matter of days my role had expanded to finding accommodation, travel, supermarkets, sim cards and even organising day visits. To be honest, I was little use for her golf as I am a terrible 16 handicapper, so I did not even attempt to pass on any pearls of wisdom.
The biggest problem we encountered was accommodation. Edinburgh was over run by tourists and the cost of a room was not cheap, and there were four people who needed taking care of. After days of fruitless searching we tracked down a caravan park and within the park they provided decent chalet type accommodation.
This turned out to be a stroke of good fortune as the facilities included two bathrooms, four bedrooms and a cooking and dining area. With two weeks away from home the party were grateful that they could cook Thai cuisine and not worry about unfamiliar hotel food.
We also hired a car for and this was a bonus as it made simple tasks of going to the supermarket that much easier. The golf at Gullane was spectacular and it was a great start to the trip in the UK.
We then packed the car and headed down to Lytham where we had rented a house in Preston. There were now more Thais in the field and Bew spent her practice days with Atthaya “Jeen” Thitikul who has now reached the grand old age of 15. She won the Smyth Salver plate for leading amateur, a remarkable achievement at such a tender age. With a four-hour wait before the end of the tournament our party of eight headed to a Thai restaurant in Blackpool for a celebratory lunch (see picture, above, left).
This turned out to be an adventure as we battled our way through the holiday traffic. There was a local punk rock festival to enjoy and the restaurant lived up its reputation. However, we only had a slim time frame before the presentation ceremony commenced on the 18th green. As Jeen received the plate alongside the Open winner, Georgia Hall, few would have realised the mad dash we had made up the Lancashire coastline to get there on time.
Before flying home there were also visits to Manchester United (Superstore) plus the Blackpool pleasure park. There were of course many shopping expeditions with Bew falling in love with the Trafford shopping centre.
Despite narrowly missing both cuts Bew loved her time in the UK and she has returned this week on a three week adventure that includes the Lacoste Ladies Open de France at Golf du Medoc, the Evian Championship at Evian Resort and the Estrella Damm Mediterranean Ladies Open, in Sitges, near Barcelona. Her mum has joined the party so there are now five of us and already the fun has started with Bew’s golf bag ending up in Amsterdam and Bew blowing up the washing machine in the house.
I am sure that there will be many stories to tell over the coming weeks. Touring isn’t easy and I am sure that the majority of people have to budget carefully in order to make ends meet.
Sometimes being victorious is seen as the only prize, yet in a sport where there can only be one winner, often from over 120 entries, surely contentment and happiness are the greater aims. Being on tour gives people an opportunity to expand life experiences such as visiting new countries and cultures. Bew has had a successful 2018 but I am sure that the trips to Europe will stay in her mind for a long time.