Big-Game hunter Kiradech takes the spotlight

sports February 12, 2018 20:00

By The Nation

Sentosa - Kiradech Aphibarnrat’s victory at the ISPS HANDA World Super 6 Perth on Sunday proves that the Thai is a man for the big occasion.

At the age of 28, Kiradech kept fans on the edge of their seats after playing through a marathon 35 holes before clinching his third Asian Tour title and fourth European Tour victory at the Lake Karrinyup Country Club.

He secured victories over Ben Eccles, Yusaku Miyazato, Sean Crocker, Lucas Herbert and disposed of James Nitties in the finals to return into the winner’s circle for the first time since 2015 when he won the Saltire Energy Paul Lawrie Match Play on the European Tour.

Kiradech’s victory in Perth was even more amazing considering he never played a practice round and had to play the 18th hole 15 times throughout the week. He was the 24th and last player to qualify for the knockout matchplay on Sunday after eliminating Anthony Quayle on the fourth play-off hole.

“I feel really happy, really proud of myself.  Everyone is saying that I’m the last guy to arrive this week, last guy to get into the top 24 and last guy to stand out here.  It's such a nice week and I've been so proud with the way I performed,” said Kiradech, who qualified for the tournament through a sponsor’s invite.

The Thai, who loves fast cars and designer watches, had to forego a holiday with his wife to play at the ISPS HANDA World Super 6 Perth, but his decision paid off handsomely as he broke into the top-50 in the world and rose to 37th place which equals his career-best.

“I was in Malaysia (two weeks ago) and I called my wife saying maybe I have to work next week, and she said, ‘just give me one good reason why you are not resting’.  Well, I got a lot of golf fans so I just can't let them down,” Kiradech explained.

“Yeah, all I get this week is just the trophy because I think all the prize money, my wife is going to take it from me.  That is the reason why she allowed me to come,” he joked.

Kiradech has come a long way since winning his maiden Asian Tour title at the 2011 SAIL Open in India. The victory signaled his arrival on the world stage which he lit up by winning the 2013 Maybank Malaysian Open before going on to become Asia’s number one that same year.

Last year he produced a gutsy performance in the last three months when he finished tied second in Italy, tied sixth in Turkey and tied second again in Dubai.

Kiradech played through the pain barrier on the final day of the Asian Tour’s season-ending Indonesian Masters before an eagle-three on the 72nd hole lifted him into fifth place, helping him to break into top-50 in the world and earn a lucrative invite to The Masters in April.

Considering his fine form, Kiradech will be the man to watch in the race to become Asia’s number one on the 2018 Habitat for Humanity Standings. The Thai moved to second place following his win with total earnings of US$251,173.

It is poised to be an exciting battle between the Thai and India’s rising star Shubhankar Sharma, who currently leads the Habitat for Humanity Standings with earnings of US$500,000 following his victory at the Maybank Championship two weeks ago. 

American Paul Peterson, who claimed his first Asian Tour title in Myanmar three weeks ago, sits in third place on the Habitat for Humanity Standings with earnings of US$182,900 while Berry Henson sits in fourth place with a current haul of US$118,112.

The Tour will travel to the ISPS HANDA New Zealand Open from March 1 to 4. The tournament, which will offer a prize purse of NZ$1.1 million (approximately US$730,000), will be the first on the Asian Tour that is played over a pro-am format, contested by top professional golfers, amateurs, as well as celebrity players.

Habitat for Humanity Standings – Top-20

Pos Player Order of Merit (US$)

1. Shubhankar SHARMA (IND) 500,000          

2. Kiradech APHIBARNRAT (THA) 251,173 

3. Paul PETERSON (USA) 182,900       

4. Berry HENSON (USA) 118,112        

5. Shaun NORRIS (RSA) 112,200    

6. Hideto TANIHARA (JPN) 95,612     

7. Khalin JOSHI (IND) 92,880  

8. Prom MEESAWAT (THA) 91,425

9. Jazz JANEWATTANANOND (THA) 75,358            

10. Danthai BOONMA (THA) 67,400    

11. Gaganjeet BHULLAR (IND) 48,390 

12. Shiv KAPUR (IND) 44,650 

13. Poom SAKSANSIN (THA) 43,479

14. Panuphol PITTAYARAT (THA) 43,000  

15. Scott VINCENT (ZIM) 42,635          

16. Arjun ATWAL (IND) 40,040  

17. Daisuke KATAOKA (JPN) 39,596         

18. David LIPSKY (USA) 38,857            

19. Gavin GREEN (MAS) 37,712          

20. Phachara KHONGWATMAI (THA) 36,850 

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