High-flying Kiradech aims to soar higher

Mon 12 Aug 2013

High-flying Kiradech aims to soar higher

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Singapore, August 12: Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat believes the experience from playing in two recent Major championships and a World Golf Championship (WGC) event will allow him to find his top form and peak on the world stage very soon.
The 24-year-old savoured a memorable week at the US PGA Championship, the year’s fourth and final Major, when he signed off as the second-best placed Asian after Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama on Sunday.
“My golf game is not very far off but I need to gain more experience. I’ve to learn how to play well under pressure and to stop feeling so nervous,” said Kiradech who finished tied-25th at Oak Hill Country Club.
The Thai, who currently leads the Asian Tour’s Order of Merit, showed a marked improvement after making his Major debut at the Open Championship last month.
Having started well in Muirfield only to make an exit in the second round, Kiradech subsequently made quite an impression with a tied-40th finish at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and followed that up by upstaging the marquee names including Americans Phil Mickelson (T72) and world number one Tiger Woods (T40) at Oak Hill.
“Even though I missed out on a top-15 finish which would have guaranteed my place next year at the PGA Championship, I'm still quite happy with my finish. The conditions were tough and I still returned with a good score,” said Kiradech, who moved up eight rungs to 77th position on the latest Official World Golf Rankings.
“I’ve now experienced what it is like to be playing in the Majors and I know how to prepare my game which is important. I think I can play well in the coming years,” added the big Thai.
Nicknamed Asia’s John Daly for his physique and aggressive style of play, Kiradech’s exploits in the US over the past fortnight attracted a small army of fans and caught the attention of the international media as well.
“I never imagined that I would receive such a warm welcome from the American fans. Even though they can’t pronounce my name correctly, at least they make an attempt to call me. I love that,”  said Kiradech.
With his confidence boosted from his run at the PGA Championship, the Thai is now hoping to make a late push to get into the International team for the Presidents Cup to face the United States in October.
He is currently 15th on the team rankings, with the top-10 at the end of August earning automatic places while captain Nick Price will have to wild card picks. “I know I have a small chance but I will need to play well in my next few events,” said Kiradech, who is slated to compete in Scotland and Wales in the next two weeks.
The Thai ace then fired an ominous warning to his rivals by declaring his intention to win the coveted Asian Tour Order of Merit title.
With the second half of the Asian Tour season due to resume with the Omega European Masters early next month, Kiradech, winner of the Maybank Malaysian Open in March, is bidding to become the third Thai after Thongchai Jaidee (2001, 2004 and 2009) and Thaworn Wiratchant (2005 and 2012) to win the merit crown.
“I made a promise to myself that I’ll finish as the best player on the Asian Tour this season,” said Kiradech.
Meanwhile, Thongchai finished tied 47th in the PGA Championship as he edged to within 0.03 points behind 10th-placed Tim Clark of South Africa in the International team standings. Thongchai moved up two rungs to 58th in the world, just one rung below Clark.
Ends.
About the Asian Tour
In 2013, the Asian Tour will celebrate a momentous milestone with its 10th season. As the official sanctioning body for professional golf in Asia, the Asian Tour leads the development of golf across the region, enhancing the careers of its members while maintaining a commitment to the integrity of the game. The Asian Tour, through its membership of the International Federation of PGA Tours, is the only recognised pan-Asian professional golf tour in Asia. This unique feature positions the Asian Tour at the pinnacle of professional golf in Asia; providing its events with Official World Ranking status. Tour Partners include Abacus (Official Apparel Partner), Canon (Official Imaging Partner), Inetol Headwear (Official Headwear Supplier), SAXO Capital Markets (Official Statistics Partner), Singha Beer (Official Beer), Srixon (Official Ball), Starwood Hotels and Resorts (Official Hotels and Resorts) and Rolex (Official Timekeeper). The Asian Tour has offices in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. Also, visit us at www.asiantour.com, www.facebook.com/asiantourgolf , www.twitter.com/asiantourgolf, www.youtube.com/theasiantour and www.weibo.com/asiantourgolf.