March 6, 2012
NORMAN, Okla -- Only in her sophomore season, Oklahoma golfer Chirapat Jao-Javanil has already assembled an impressive collegiate resume.
Jao-Javanil has finished in the top-20 in all but three of her tournaments while at OU and continues to be a key player in the Sooners' mission to make it to the NCAA Championships.
Nicknamed "Ja" by her coaches and teammates, she averaged 73.82 strokes last year as a freshman, which was good for the OU career record. The Thailand native is also ranked No. 59 nationally by Golfweek.
Jao-Javanil and the Sooners tee off in their third spring tournament March 16 in Mesa, Ariz., at the Clover Cup. SoonerSports.com caught up with her to ask about her improvement this year and about several other topics.
Q: What do you think is the biggest difference in your game from last year to this year?
A: "Skill wise, because we practice every day, everything has gotten a little bit better. Around the greens we pick up a few more shots. Definitely, I think my putting has gotten better from last year. I think mentally in a way I have gotten stronger, too. I am not looking at stuff that I should be looking at as much anymore and just concentrating on one shot at a time and one hole at a time. I am looking at the process more than the results."
Q: How do you bounce back from a bad hole?
A: "I will have to say that once you play to a certain point you have to learn to not think of the score when you're playing. I guess you just stick to the notion that every shot is different and you can't base the shot you're about to hit from the result of the last shot. There is just no connection between it."
Q: Who were your sports idols growing up?
A: "Annika Sorenstam, who is a Swedish player. She was the world's No. 1 (golfer). She didn't start until she was about 12 or 13, so it is just incredible to see how someone who did start when she was young was able to work hard and earn it and become No. 1. Another one would be Fred Couples. I remember hearing in Thailand that even when Couples was walking to his next shot with his playing partner he would talk about things like basketball. It's cool to see that he can turn on and off and enjoy (things) while he plays."
Q: Who from the team do you hang out with the most?
A: "The most would probably be Taylor (Schmidt) and Emily (Collins), but mostly Taylor. She is like a sister from another mother. It is kind of nice and Emily is like a big sister, too. We just hang out a lot and love to joke around. They have taught me a lot and teach me the ropes of how things are so it's always just fun."
Q: What do you miss most about Thailand?
A: "Definitely my mom and dad because I am an only child, so we are really close and I am always with my mom. Also my friends, because we are all just so close and have a close circuit. It is like you are part of a big family. I played in a federation, so I have like 170 people that I would always see all the time at tournaments. It's like everyone knows everyone, so it's kind of like a big family. I just miss that, but I am starting to meet a lot more friends here, so I am kind of getting that atmosphere back."
Q: What do you like most about America?
A: "I like how everything is big. Everything is kind of on a timely basis, so I like how everything is scheduled. I guess in Thailand it is more of an easy going pace. Here it is good because you are taught to be disciplined and you can get a lot of things done."
Q: What has been your favorite golf moment at OU so far?
A: "When we were in Missouri and I placed 10th at (the) Big 12 (Championship), that is my favorite moment for now. Brooke Collins' mother took a picture and it was the second day of the tournament. It was Taylor, Emily, A.C. (Anne-Catherine Tanguay), and all the girls were standing behind the green as I was trying to make my birdie putt on the last hole. They didn't know that someone was taking the photo because the picture was taken from behind them. But they are crossing their fingers for me and it just shows how your team is really supporting you even when you're not paying attention. You get that feeling and see that they are really cheering for you."
Q: What do you do to keep yourself entertained on the road?
A: "I feel like we just all have fun just talking to each other. We talk about the most random stuff. I watch shows like "Gossip Girl," but I am not someone who has to watch it every week. I can just come back after a tournament and watch it online. Just chatting with Coach V, Taylor or Emily is just laughter. Spending time with the team when I'm there is what's most fun."
Q: Who has been most influential in your golf game?
A: "The most influential person in my golf game has been my coach from Thailand. His name is Sama Susilvorn. And also Coach Oat. Coach Sama has just seen me grow up and Coach Oat helped fix my swing. They have just been awesome, and mentally they have helped a lot."
Q: What are you goals with golf?
A: "Ideally I would love to play in the LPGA, but I am a psych major right now. Psychology is something that just interests me also. But, I guess it goes hand and hand with golf because it is such a mental game. If golf doesn't work out, that is why we are in school. So there is always plan B."
Q: Do you have any hidden talents outside of golf?
A: "I can't sing and I can't really dance but I can make people smile and laugh a lot. I guess that's kind of a talent. When people see me they just laugh. Sometimes it looks kind of awkward with some of the things I do, but if someone can smile because of it, then I'll do it."