Jao-Javanil a rising star for Oklahoma

Chirapat Jao-Javanil of Oklahoma

Women's Rankings »

RankNameSchoolRating
1SooBin KimWashington  68.24 
2Leona MaguireDuke  69.16 
3Celine BoutierDuke  69.48 
4Alison LeeUCLA  69.82 
5Annie ParkUSC  69.83 

Women's Team Rankings »

RankNameRatingEvents
1South Carolina 70.50 
2Washington 70.69 
3Duke 71.00 
4Southern California 71.17 
5Stanford 71.22 

PARRISH, Fla. – One could argue that the individual title at the Central District Invitational belonged to Oklahoma sophomore Chirapat Jao-Javanil from the beginning. A first-round, 4-under 68 at River Wildnerness Club on Feb. 20 left her tied with LSU’s Austin Ernst and one shot ahead of Ernst’s teammate, Tessa Teachman.

For Jao-Javanil, who followed with rounds of 70-74 to win by two, there was something about the 68 that just didn’t sit well.

“She gave me the scorecard after the first 18 and said, ‘Coach, I’m so mad right now,” said Oklahoma head coach Veronique Drouin. “I’m like, ‘Why?’ I looked at her score and said, ‘You made eight birdies,’ but she had four bogeys too.”

Perhaps it’s a level of perfectionism necessary for a player who has had two victories already in her sophomore season. The Golfweek Conference Challenge was her first career title.

Jao-Javanil, whom teammates have dubbed “Ja,” fills a gaping hole for Oklahoma left by the graduation of Ellen Mueller, who set many of the program’s records. This year, Jao-Javanil leads a young team that fell one shot short of champion TCU at the Central District. That she finished as the top individual in a field of four of the top 20 teams in the country was something that didn’t immediately click. The realization brought no huge amount of excitement. Jao Javanil simply came to play.

“Of course I feel really good,” she said. “I just have to keep working hard, and hopefully putts will drop.”

The native of Thailand moved to the U.S. when she was 17 to play for Oklahoma and is fluent in English and Thai. She attended a bilingual school and had tutoring in English, but moving to the U.S. still has been a “big change.”

A look ahead

What: Allstate Sugar Bowl

When: Feb. 26-28

Where: English Turn G&CC, New Orleans

Why it’s important: First tournament this spring to match top teams from East and West, with three of the top five teams in Golfweek’s rankings (Alabama, Auburn and USC). After Auburn’s win at the UCF Challenge, finishing on top of a field this deep would really make a statement. Also keep an eye on Duke and Oregon, and don’t overlook Baylor and Colorado.

Normally she returns home to Thailand in the summers, but this year Jao-Javanil plans to remain stateside to try qualifying for summer events including the U.S. Women’s Open, U.S. Women’s Amateur and U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links.

“We’ll see how that goes,” Jao-Javanil says with a mixture of nerves and excitement.

• • •

League of their own: Texas State finished out of sight of the next-best teams at its spring opener Feb. 20. The Bobcats won the Claud Jacobs Challenge at Victoria (Texas) Country Club by 33 shots.

It’s the fourth straight year Texas State has won its spring event, but their 37-over 901 team total is the lowest 54-hole total in the tournament’s history. It put Texas State, No. 52 in Golfweek’s rankings, 33 shots ahead of Iowa (77) and Missouri (95). Texas State also won Missouri’s event in the fall, the Johnie Imes Invitational.

Junior Krista Puisite also was in a playoff for the individual title for a second year, but lost on the second hole to Louisiana-Monroe’s Ali Lucas.

• • •

photo

Isabelle Boineau

Five questions with Arizona senior Isabelle Boineau, of Marseille, France, who tied teammate Manon Gidali for medalist honors at the UNLV Spring Rebel Invitational. Arizona also won the event for its second title of the spring.

1. How does two wins to start the season change your outlook for the team?

With Manon on the team, it makes it way more competitive for qualifying. So it’s way harder to qualify as No. 5 now on the team, so it makes everyone work harder to play better, so I think our No. 5 and 4 are way better than last semester.

2. Was it frustrating in the fall to struggle a little as a team?

It was awful. We played terrible since the NCAAs in May. We played really bad at that tournament, and it carried on in the fall. We were kind of (mad) about that. When you get a player like Manon on the team, it changes a lot.

3. You and Manon are both from France, so how have you helped her with the transition to college?

I really like her. I never played on the French National Team with her because she is way younger than me, but we went on trips with the French team, and it was a lot of fun. I knew she was a great addition to the team, I knew she was going to help us a lot because she’s a great player. She has a lot of potential. I’m really happy she came in January, so I have the chance to play with her because I’m done and she’s just starting.

4. Margarita Ramos, Nikki Koller and you make up a good core of seniors for Arizona. What’s left for the three of you to accomplish this spring?

We definitely want to win a ring at Pac-12 and then nationals; that’s our goal. It’s our last year, so we need to give our best and hope for the best, too. A national championship would be amazing, and I think we have a chance now.

5. You’re almost done at Arizona. What will you do after you graduate?

The plan is actually to turn professional by the end of the year. I’m planning on staying in the States, turn pro and play on the LPGA hopefully if not the (Symetra) Tour. I’m really excited. I cannot wait to turn pro and stay in the States; that’s my dream.

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