Laurea Dy Duque has gone six weeks with the coach of current world No. 3 Atthaya Thitikul since October and is slowly reaping the fruits of a revamped swing.
“Right now, I’m very happy with the changes,” said the 18-year-old graduating high school student.
Duque admitted to having second thoughts about reconstructing her swing.
“Of course, it’s always hard to take risks and have big changes but SMC had a great part in my decision,” Duque said, referring to San Miguel Corp. which is bankrolling her training in Thailand.
Duque has been spending two weeks a month at the ASA Golf Academy under Kris Assawapimonporn in Thailand.
The academy houses a two-floor driving range and a short game and putting facilities.
The arrangement started last October. She stayed in a condominium unit near the training center in Bangkok.
The first thing Assawapimonporn did was to revamp her swing, according to Duque.
“Mainly, we changed how my body moves during my swing. The weight distribution of my backswing to finish is one of the biggest things we changed,” she explained. “Footwork as well which helped me hit the ball more solid and gain distance.”
Duque said since the swing change, she gained 10 yards with her irons and 15 yards with her driver.
Each session lasts between five and seven hours.
In her last trip, Duque said she was fortunate to train with Thitikul and played a round with her at the Thailand Country Club, an exclusive private course.
“She’s really nice. At first, I was quite shy but she talked to me right when I got there and was very welcoming. We talked about golf and how she is on the LPGA Tour. Our coach was telling stories as well so it was very fun,” Duque said.
She learned that Thitikul loves sweets and loves to shop as she does.
“She (Thitikul) told me to always have fun and love what I’m doing. Even when we practiced, she was a very light and happy person on the course,” said Duque who was able to see how an LPGA player practices during the off-season.
Since first swinging the club at the age of nine, Duque has learned to love the sport and doesn’t mind spending half a day trying to get better.
She wakes up around 5 a.m. and heads to the golf course to do the drills given to her which take about four hours. She practices her short game for about two hours and tries to get in a round in the afternoon before heading to the gym to work with fitness coach Cris Palanca.
“I’m addicted to getting better. I’m in my happiest state when I’m on the golf course,” Duque said.
She considers herself lucky to have met Ramon Ang, the top honcho of SMC and BMW two firms that foot the bill for her training.
“We spoke about golf, college, and turning professional in the future. I guess I was just lucky,” said Duque, a member of the national team for four years now.
She describes Ang as intelligent, hard-working, and has a good heart.
Next year, Ang will also send Lia, Duque’s 14-year-old sister to train with her in Thailand.
The two sisters are the only golfers backed by the business conglomerate.
“I’m excited for Lia to get better as well,” Duque said.
Having gone through a swing change, she said she has little expectations ahead of the National Stroke Play Championship next month at the Riviera Golf and Country Club.
“I really don’t expect anything because of the big changes but of course, I will still do my best to play well,” she said.
She will soon go to college but has deferred her decision where.
“My plans will depend on how good my golf game gets in the next few months,” Duque said.
“For 2023, my main goal is to always get better. I’d like to be more consistent with my scoring averages. I have a few tournaments already lined up so it would be good to see my work pay off.”
After college, Duque plans to turn pro and campaign in Thailand first, then proceed to Japan.
“If my game is good enough, the LPGA Tour,” she said.
Sounds like a plan.