Jazz Janewattananond is in contention at the 2019 PGA Champonship. Janewattananond, who went pro in 2010, was born in Bangkok, Thailand. He plays on both the Asian and European Tours.
Janewattananond (pronounced Jane-what-a-NAN-ond), 23, is said to be very soft spoken. In fact, the pro-golfer was admittedly nervous to meet Tiger Woods — who is also half Thai. The two shook hands at the PGA Championship but Janewattananond kept things short and sweet, simply congratulating Woods on his Masters win.
Here’s what you need to know:
He Was Nicknamed Jazz After His Dad’s Favorite Type of Music & He Still Lives in Thailand
As you might expect, the name Jazz is a nickname. It’s something his dad started calling him because his dad loves jazz music.
Janewattananond’s real first name is Atiwit. He and his parents still live in Thailand. His parents decided not to make the trip to the U.S. to watch Jazz play in this week’s PGA Championship at Bethpage Black Course in New York; it’s a 22-hour flight from Thailand to JFK International Airport in New York.
While Janewattananond isn’t currently in the lead, he’s been leading the pack, maintaining a solid outing more than halfway through Round 4. He seems to be enjoying his time out on the course and has noticed that the crowd has been pretty accepting.
“Even when I hit a bad shot, they don’t boo. And they’re really funny trying to pronounce my name,” he told the New York Times.
Janewattananond has really been coming into his own lately and he’s even been working on his autograph. Rather than signing his 15-letter last name, he’s taken a liking to simply signing his name “Jazz.”
“People seem to like that. I like that it keeps things simple. I try to do that all the time,” he said. To make things even more unique, he replaces the “J” in his name with a musical note. It’s rather fitting, when you think about it.
He Became a Buddhist Monk in 2016
Yes, you read that right. It was just after the 2016 golf season that Janewattananond did a bit of soul searching, if you will. He spent two weeks as a Buddhist monk. The experience, he says, helped his golf game.
“It’s something that every Thai or Buddhist does, but for me, it made a difference in my golf career. It made me more peaceful. I’m not trying so hard on the golf course. There are more important things than golf,” he explained.
His time as a Buddhist monk isn’t something he’s shy about, either. In fact, he embraces it and seems open to talking about the experience and what it brought to his life.
“Every Thai or every Buddhist, if you’re that religion, you have to go and do it when you turn 21 and I did that,” he said on the European Tour site. “I didn’t expect it to be better for myself but it turns out it made me more peaceful, not trying as hard on the golf course because there’s so many other big things around our lives.”