Kiradech struggles to keep pace in title defence

Fri 18 Apr 2014

Kiradech struggles to keep pace in title defence

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Kuala Lumpur, April 18: Unless he produces a magical number on Saturday, title holder Kiradech Aphibarnrat knows his defence at the Maybank Malaysian Open will fall short especially with Lee Westwood seemingly in total control at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club.
The Thai star, who won here en route to lifting the Asian Tour Order of Merit crown last season, suffered a mixed bag once again with a second straight one-under-par 71 which left him 11 shots behind Westwood, who leads by four going into the weekend.
Big-hitting Kiradech sank seven birdies but four bogeys and one double bogey on the card left the EurAsia Cup star grappling to find some consistency with his swing, which he has struggled with following the death of his coach and mentor.
“It was a mixed round so I have to work on the mistakes,” admitted the 25-year-old.
“I’m hitting the ball better. I lost a couple of shots but I made a lot of birdies which is a positive sign. I made some mistakes and some good shots. My short game wasn’t good enough. When I hit a perfect approach, I was making birdies from inside six feet so that was good. But my swing is not in good shape at the moment.”
Saying he wasn’t feeling 100 per cent, Kiradech hopes to produce the fireworks in the weekend rounds and have some fun. “I don’t think I will be going to the driving range. I don’t feel well so I will go back to the room, take some medication and rest. I want to focus in the last two rounds and enjoy my game,” he said.
“I want to play the same game but maybe with a sharper short game. I’m hitting my irons close to the hole so I hope to continue that and give myself more birdie opportunities.”
Arnond Vongvanij, Prom Meesawat and Prayad Marksaeng will go into the final two rounds sitting on 141, 10 back of the leader while Thongchai Jaidee, the EurAsia Cup Team Asia captain, shot a 70 and is tied alongside Kiradech.
Arnond, who carded a 71, was delighted to ease into the weekend rounds after missing the halfway cut here in the last two years. “I’m very happy because it hasn’t really gone my way when I played on this golf course before. It was always a grind out there for me. I didn’t swing very well here previously and it was hard for me to get over that,” said Arnond.
“I stayed very focus and kept my concentration all the time. It is more tiring than usual but it is worth it.”
Ends.