Pornanong Phatlum. She's got an ultra exotic name, she's only 18 and she's already a golf star. After all, this adorable Thai teenager won both the Ladies Thailand Open and the Indian Open earlier this year, and she's currently number one on the Ladies Asian Tour. This week however, she's doing something that has historically been... quite provocative...she's playing with the guys.
Pornanong Phatlum is going to try to become only the second female player to make the cut on the Asian Tour when she competes in the Bankok Airways Open later this week. Michelle Wie, of course, was the first female player to make the weekend rounds on the Asian Tour. She did it at the SK Telecom Open in 2006. See what I mean by provocative?
On the Asian Tour's website Pornanong said, “I am very excited and happy as I am the only female player invited for the Bangkok Airways Open. I have been practicing from the men’s tee in preparation for this tournament. I’ve played at the Santiburi Samui course previously and found it to be quite a challenge, so I hope to be more prepared this time around.”
I for one, would love to see her do well, and naturally, I'm wondering what the reaction will be. Will there be the same disgust, dismisal and vitriol expressed on other occasions where women competed in men's events... or will this go largely unnoticed? Will this put Pomanong in the spotlight, ensuring her lucrative sponsorships...and major scrutiny by the press and public?
Whatever the outcome this weekend in Thailand, we'll probably be seeing much more of this exciting player going forward. Pornanong says her goal is to play on the LPGA Tour, and she's going to be making another attempt at Q-school in August, after failing get her card last year.
In any case, I'm quite sure the name Pornanong Phatlum will soon seem a lot more familiar.