By Andrew Both
FARMINGDALE, N.Y. (Reuters) – Jazz Janewattananond thought he would struggle to break 80 at Bethpage Black when he saw the course on Monday but has exceeded expectations with three rounds no worse than par that has lifted him into a tie for second behind runaway leader Brooks Koepka.
In his second major appearance after last year’s British Open, the 23-year-old Thai gave the galleries something to enjoy in a fearless display of aggression with a violent swing and ignoring of the punishing rough waiting to gobble up wayward shots.
“When I arrived here it was raining,” world number 72 Jazz said of the poor weather at the start of the week. “The course played so tough because the rough was so long, and the ball didn’t go anywhere.
“I was having a nightmare. How am I going to play this golf course? I’m not going to break 80.”
The youngest player to make the cut on the Asian Tour as a 14-year-old in 2010, he has not exactly burst from obscurity, with a victory against a strong field at the Singapore Open in January showing he could more than compete.
It would be fair, however, to say many fans were not familiar with his name and he said he heard all sorts of different attempts at the pronunciation.
“I heard some really funny ones,” he said. “They love me here. People keep shouting ‘love you’.”
Jazz, who shot 67 in brilliant sunshine on Saturday for a score of five-under 205, will go into the final round seven strokes behind leader Koepka.
Jazz will play in the penultimate pairing with American Luke List and be able to avoid the hoopla of playing with Koepka, who will be accompanied by fellow American Harold Varner III.
(Editing by Greg Stutchbury)