Josh Duangmanee is not at all short on tournament reps. The 16-year-old from Fairfax, Virginia, is not afraid to travel to find competition – or to find conditions that will test his game.
Near the end of the 2020 season, that meant Florida. Duangmanee found himself on the Atlantic coast, flighting shots in a stiff sea breeze to contend at the Golfweek International Junior, where he ultimately scored a top-20 finish. It transported him back to a trip he’d taken with older brother George this summer.
When George, a 19-year-old freshman at the University of Virginia, qualified for the U.S. Amateur at Bandon Dunes in Bandon, Oregon, Josh went along as his caddie. Golf is a family affair for the Duangmanees and Josh soaked up everything that week.
Bandon marked the first time that Josh had ever caddied for George. Their mom Joanne came, too, but because of COVID, that was as many family members as the USGA would allow on site. The Duangmanee brothers, three years apart in age, have chased their own competition growing up. Keeping up with that is a full-time job for Joanne.
Josh has caddied for big bro so infrequently because he’s usually competing in his own events. Still, he has studied George’s journey closely. In late July, when George played his way to the semifinals at the notoriously grueling Western Amateur, Josh was “refreshing the page every minute” from Newport News, Virginia, where he was playing the Virginia State Golf Association Stroke Play.
George is No. 213 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, but has been inside the top 50. Most recently he made match play at the Maridoe Amateur but fell in the first round. He transitioned out of junior golf before the COVID pandemic set in, finishing sixth at the Junior Invitational at Sage Valley. Starts at the North & South Amateur and Palmetto Amateur followed, leading up to what should have been a freshman season of competition at Virginia.
The Cavaliers, along with the rest of the ACC conference, didn’t compete in golf.
“They’re very close,” Joanne said said. “Since George has gone to UVA, it’s been difficult I think. They’ve played together since he could walk and so I think having him not home, I think that’s a big change. For him but for all of us.”
These days there is competition between the two in a different way. Both are interested in finance and since COVID began, have been trading stocks online. As of November, Josh was winning that game – up $300 on an original $1,000 investment.
If pro golf doesn’t work out, Josh would work on Wall Street. His dad Thanakorn, who played college tennis at South Alabama, also had a career in finance.
“I read a lot of Yahoo Finance and the Motley Fool,” Josh said of the research he does to trade.
On Josh’s golf bucket list, after seeing it through George’s eyes, is the U.S. Amateur.
“One, I would play with older kids and I would know how they play,” he said, “and then also winning. There’s so much that comes with winning.”
Josh, ranked in the top 20 in Golfweek’s Junior Rankings for the class of 2023, started the year by winning the Junior Honda Classic at PGA National’s Champions Course in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. After the American Junior Golf Association restarted its tournament schedule in June post-COVID lockdown, he finished fourth at the AJGA’s Harold Varner III Junior All-Star.
In 2019, Josh won the 13-14 age division at the Scott Robertson Memorial, a long-running junior event in his native Virginia. But Josh also has his eye on new territory, hence the U.S. Amateur dreams. It’s time to transition to amateur events.
Josh played the Orlando International Amateur in December 2018 and was the youngest player in the field. He played the South Beach International Amateur in 2019 and plans to play that event again to end 2020. He loves gaining experience that way.
“I think their short game is much better,” he said in judging the experience gap between that level of player and himself. “They always get up and down.”
The Duangmanee brothers share an instructor in Stephen Moskal, who teaches out of Belmont Country Club back home in Virginia. Josh’s lessons are mostly about mental game. Sometimes his mind wanders over the ball.
“It’s more about where to start the ball and where I want the ball to finish so I can get a good look at birdie,” he said.
A mind that’s always working? That’s a sign of a player who’s always getting better.
original article link https://golfweek.usatoday.com/2020/12/09/junior-golf-josh-duangmanee-virginia/