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The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

Introduced to golf by his father, Pichaikool excels at MSU

Courtesy Photo | MSU Communicaitons

Peng Pichaikool, a sophomore from Bangkok, Thailand, was introduced to golf by his dad. He decided to come to America and play golf at MSU.

The game of golf has been around since its invention in Scotland in the 1400’s, and Peng Pichaikool, a sophomore golfer from Bangkok, Thailand, said he was introduced to the centuries-old game by his father, like many other golfers.

“My dad playing golf, he played professional golf before,” Pichaikool said. “When I was young, I would usually go along with him. Then he would have practice and I would go watch him. Every time I would have a chance to play golf with my dad, I would go.”

Pichaikool said he played with his dad two or three times a week. One memory stuck out when thinking about playing golf with his father.

“We would play a lot of tournaments with professionals and amateurs pairing up together,” Pichaikool said. “There is a tournament in Thailand, and we came in second as a team, me and my dad, it was just a fun moment. It was one of my favorite memories.”

Growing up in Thailand is very similar on an academic level as the U.S.; Pichaikool went to elementary, middle and high school before attending Bromsgrove International school in Thailand. The school was a challenge for Pichaikool, as the school taught in English, his second language.

“That school, it was one of the most academically in Thailand,” Pichaikool said. “I had a rough time there, I had to do a lot of school work. School was so tough compared to here. Everything is in English, too, which is my second language.”

Pichaikool is also able to have a taste of home in Starkville, as his favorite restaurant is Thai Siam. While choosing a favorite restaurant in Starkville is a tough choice, he said it is very similar to the Thai food at home.

“I know the owner, so I just talked to her and she made a lot of Thai flavors and that was great for me,” Pichaikool said.

Although Pichaikool traveled to America in the past, he said the southern states were kind of a culture shock at first, but once he got used to it, he was fine. He said his friend who played golf at MSU played a big part in his choosing MSU as well as former head coach Clay Homan giving him the opportunity to play golf for MSU.

“One of my friends played here, and he graduated in 2014 and referred me to coach. So I had the opportunity to talk to former coach Homan,” Pichaikool said. “He offered me a good scholarship, I saw the city, and I saw the school, it was just not a tough decision to make.”

Homan retired after Pichaikool’s first season at MSU. When athletic director John Cohen hired now head coach Dusty Smith, who took over in May 2017, Smith said he was lucky to get Pichaikool.

With Pichaikool being fifth in the Arnold Palmer Cup rankings from this fall, and having finished in 12th place in a pro tournament in Thailand this winter, it is easy to see why Smith feels lucky to have him.

“The most important thing is that he has a lot of self-belief in himself,” Smith said. “Golf is a lot about having confidence within yourself. That is probably his number one attribute is, he is very confident and he believes in himself in what he is doing.”

As the legend Arnold Palmer once said, golf is very dependent on the mental side of the game, success in the sport is dependent more on the strength of the mind than the strength of the body. It helps to be strong in both areas which Smith said Pichaikool is.

“He is very physically gifted, he hits it long and straight and he is able to control his golf ball,” Smith said. “When he does get a bit off with his ball striking he has one of the best short games that I have ever seen. So he is tough mentally but he also has the physical piece, and he has a lot of self-belief.”

As far as expectations go, Smith believes every player should be better today than they were yesterday, and Pichaikool is no exception.

“When he tees it up, he has played so many good rounds for us, I almost expect him to play well every time,” Smith said. “I’m a huge process-oriented coach, I know he has very high goals for himself.”

Pichaikool has placed in the top 10 three times and top five twice in the five tournaments the team has competed in this year. Smith said Pichaikool has the ability to become the best golfer in the country, but this will only come with a certain mindset.

“The right mindset for us is doing our job every single day, and getting a little bit better each and every day,” Smith said. “Not worrying about external factors or getting too far ahead of ourselves. We just have to take one step at a time.”

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Introduced to golf by his father, Pichaikool excels at MSU