Kiradech crowned King of Matchplay

Mon 03 Aug 2015

Kiradech crowned King of Matchplay

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August 3: Asian Tour star Kiradech Aphibarnrat kept his cool to conjure a magnificent, tournament-winning approach to the final green to beat Robert Karlsson by one hole in the final of the inaugural Saltire Energy Paul Lawrie Matchplay.
The 26-year-old Thai was three up with four to play before losing the 15th, 16th and 17th against the former European number one and Ryder Cup star but held his nerve at the 18th to secure his third European Tour title, and second of the 2015 season, in quite sensational style.
Kiradech, who ended hopes of a home win when he saw off Scotland's Marc Warren in the last four on Sunday morning, took a two-hole lead after birdieing three of the first four holes of the final, and he increased his advantage at the sixth as Karlsson twice tangled with the heavy rough.
Karlsson reduced the deficit to just one hole after firing birdies at the eighth and ninth but this year's Shenzhen International winner Kiradech took the 11th and 14th to return to three up.
Two birdies and a par at the next three holes saw the Swede draw level, and he looked to be in control on the 18th when he fired his second shot to 10 feet.
But the Thai ace, Asia’s number one in 2013, responded with interest, producing a wonderful second shot at the last, and after Karlsson had missed his putt, he rolled in from four feet to win the tournament.
“I was striking the ball well and hitting it so good on the front nine, but then I lost a bit of energy and control. I started pulling some drives but I have to say I putted very well today and sank a lot of important putts – especially the putt to win which was very short but it was great to see it hit the middle of the hole. I didn’t have too high expectations this week but I just came here and tried to enjoy the whole experience of playing in Scotland,” said the Thai.
“This is a very important win for me because it is the first time I have won outside Asia. I have always said that we are just a little small country in Asia and that my next step to win in Europe, so I am so happy and so proud of myself that I was able to prove we also can win out of Asia. It’s an important win for Thai and all Asian players.”
Kiradech joined Thai legend Thongchai Jaidee as a winner on European soil and his immediate target now is to make a late push for the International Team in the Presidents Cup against the United States in October. He is expected to jump up to 65th place on the world rankings and just outside the automatic top-10 list on the International rankings.
Karlsson said: “He's tricky to play against because he's playing such a free and flowing golf it makes it slightly different. You never really know what he's going to do, which makes it tricky to stay on your own game because he's so aggressive. You know it most likely he's going to give a couple away, which he did on eight and 15. But also, he's going to make birdies. He's tricky to play against but obviously a great, great player and made a fantastic birdie on the last so he deserved it the win.”