Pro or not pro? That’s the question among student athletes

NAKHON NAYOK Thailand

The clink of a putter and the applause that followed at the 18th hole cut through a symphony of crickets in the dim light of dusk.

Thai golfer Tipanun Prakasvudhisarn finished her opening round at the World University Games with a 7-over-par 79, blaming wind and long rough for a tough day.

But the 19-year-old was not jarred by her performance. She’s determined to turn pro this time next year, a refrain common to many of the Games’ athletes.

“I know I love this sport,” the sophomore at Kasem Bundit University said. “I will study so hard, practice so hard to get to my dream.”

Tipanun clocks seven hours of practice each day when school is not in session.

“If I practice too little, I know I cannot be a professional,” she said, sitting at Watermill Golf and Gardens, the par-72 course 90 kilometers (60 miles) outside Bangkok where she practices.

“I don’t play for the crowd, the people, the caddie,” she said. “The sport must be played for the self.”

Earlier in the day, Canada’s Patrick Forbes played in temperatures as high as 35C (95F) and had an 83.

“I’m the worst on the team, I guess,” the Toronto native and Queen’s University student joked. “The rough is brutal. But if you hit in the fairway, you’re going to score.”

Unlike many of his competitors, Forbes, 20, plays for fun and hasn’t set his sights on going pro despite his love of the sport.

“I’ve been around enough golfers who are turning pro that if it hasn’t happened already,” he said, trailing off. “I’m just taking advantage of the sightseeing for now.”

For the next three days, Forbes will play against up-and-coming players such as gold medal favorite, American Ryan Brehm, the Michigan State junior who led after the first round with a 4-under 68 and followed that up with a 74 Friday.

The players will not only have to deal with the stray dogs that loiter on the greens, but the heat that will persist throughout.

“When your hands get slippery, you let go of your shots,” Forbes said.

Not that it is too much of a concern for the Canadian, who is out having fun, experiencing his first trip to Thailand and learning Afrikaans from the South African playing in his group.

And if he weren’t playing golf?

“I’d have to get a real job,” he laughed.

– Associated Press



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