The Tyrone secret to Thailand’s golfing success

Ronan MacNamara

Patty Tavatanakit

Ronan MacNamara

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One of the most quintessentially Irish things is to claim a piece of somebody’s success in whatever way possible. It’s why Donabate’s Alexis MacAllister became Ireland’s first FIFA World Cup winner in December 2022 when wearing the blue and white stripes of Argentina.

2005 World Snooker champion Shaun Murphy lives in Dublin, so clearly he is ours, right?

We have championed the granny rule to great effect in order to field starting XI’s for decades.

Patty Tavatanakit put on an imperious, world class performance of front foot golf when she roared to a wire-to-wire victory at the Aramco Saudi Ladies International presented by PIF in Saudi Arabia last week.

It was the Thailand star’s first victory since capturing her maiden major at the Chevron Championship in 2021, where she also blew away the field.

It was the completion of a redemption story for the Thai talent (24) who had slipped outside the top-80 in the Rolex World Rankings following a personally devastating loss of form, before Sunday’s win.

Of course, this is a win for Ireland of sorts as her outstanding wedge and putting performance has the finger prints of Tyrone native Gareth Raflewski all over it.

The short game guru has quite the stable, including Waste Management Phoenix Open winner Nick Taylor and now Tavatanakit has made it a golden fortnight, for the Canada based coach.

Raflewski has a glowing reputation in the professional game and currently coaches PGA Tour players like Taylor and Kiradech Aphibarnrat but he is best known for being the short game mastermind behind 85 LPGA Tour players including the Jutanugarn sisters, Lydia Ko and Jin Young Ko, to name a few.

Speaking to in Riyadh on Sunday evening, Tavatanakit heaped praise on Raflewski and credited a change in approach in the offseason as a pillar for her return to form.

“Gareth has helped me quite a bit actually,” said Tavatanakit who pocketed a cool $750,000 from the $5 million prize purse.

“I’ve been with him for just over two years now. We started at the KPMG PGA Championship in 2022 or 2021, I’m not sure.

“He has been a great help. I actually talk to him quite a bit more in the offseason. We changed our approach a little bit into how we look at things and evaluate my game to take accordingly into practice.”

Raflewski, who has coached four world number ones in the women’s game has also left a legacy at home with the Raflewski Golf Europe Academy at PGA National Slieve Russell where Head PGA Professional Gordon Smyth rules the roost.

Professionals such as Stuart Grehan, Niall Kearney, Conor O’Rourke and Liam Grehan are regular visitors to the academy as is new professional Rob Moran. Tom McKibbin who won on the DP World Tour last year, was also dialling in his wedges when Irish Golfer Magazine paid a visit last year.



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