The unanswered questions of a beginner-professional are many. Jaravee Boonchant, a member of Duke’s 2019 National Title Team who turned pro after the Blue Devils’ last trip to the NCAA Championship back in May, wants to get a feel for what is in store for them.
She’s about to have a direct line to one of the game’s greats to clear up some of the secrets.
Boonchant has been named the winner of Workday’s July Inkster Senior Award, honoring the top ranked women’s Division I college golfer in her final year of eligibility for the 2020-21 season. Boonchant from Thailand is the second winner of the award, after Natalie Srinivasan from Furman, the 2020 winner.
Inkster’s name is particularly apt for the award, as the three-time All-American from San Jose State (1979-82) decided to turn pro after graduating from college and win 17 singles titles during her college career.
“Jaravee had an amazing college career at Duke and weathered the challenges of the global pandemic to graduate from one of the most prestigious colleges in the country. That says a lot not only about their performance on the pitch, but also about their goals and passions away from it, ”Inkster said in a press release. “I look forward to accompanying Jaravee on the next stage of her professional and personal journey.
“I would also like to thank the Women’s Golf Coaches Association and Workday for working with me on this award,” continued Inkster. “To have a player honored for her commitment to her school, her coaches and her teammates, that is what this award is about.”
Boonchant graduated from Duke with a degree in statistics in April. As a three-time All-ACC and four-time All-American selection, it averaged 71.99 strokes over four seasons, the third-best career average in Duke history. She finished her senior season in 13th place on the Golfweek / Sagarin College Rankings.
After the national championship, she turned pro and began her professional career playing the Texas Women’s Open (she finished T5) and participating in the Women’s All-Pro Tour.
Not long after embarking on this adventure, she received a call from Inkster herself carrying the news that Boonchant had won her namesake award. All Boonchant knew was to take the call, which was coming from a number she didn’t know.
“When I got a call from July I was like wow,” she said. “I wasn’t sure if she called to say I won the award or if someone else won it.”
Boonchant Monday qualified for the LPGA Marathon Classic earlier this summer, but has not played another tour event. As a perk of the award, she will play the Cambia Portland Classic, which takes place September 16-19 at the Oregon Golf Club in West Linn, Oregon. Then it goes on to level II of the LPGA Q-School – Boonchant has also received a pass to the second level due to the profit.
“After turning pro, I didn’t really have a mentor,” said Boonchant, who says former Duke players like Ana Belac and Thai LPGA player Pajaree Anannarukarn answered some of their many questions. Duke assistant coach Jon Whithaus also helped her on her way.
Professional golf is a very different arena, however, and with her parents in Thailand, Boonchant moves largely alone. On this first foray into the next stage, she booked her own rental car and made her own hotel arrangements.
“It would be nice if I could know beforehand what difficulties I might face on this trip,” said Boonchant when asked what she hopes for her time at Inkster.
With the award, Boonchant will receive $ 50,000 from WorkDay as an entry fee to help with expenses. But she also scores with Facetime with Inkster in the form of a two-day retreat with the LPGA legend.
“I think I would like to play a round with her,” said Boonchant. That would also be a chance to pick your brain on LPGA matters, from choosing tournaments to mental play to dealing with the pressure.