Credit: Asian Tour
Kiradech adds start power to t opening Tournament of the season
Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand is thrilled to begin his season on homesoil after a relaxing break at the season-opening Boonchu Ruangkit Championship which starts on Thursday.
The 2013 Asian Tour number one will lend his star credentials to the ?4 million (approximately US$121,700) Asian Development Tour (ADT) event hosted by Thai legend Boonchu Ruangkit and staged at the Rancho Charnvee Resort and Country Club.
Kiradech, currently at world number 37 on the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR), is the highest-ranked player in the 156-men field this week. The lineup also boast some of the biggest names on the region's premier Tour, including Prayad Marksaeng and Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand, Zaw Moe of Myanmar and Sweden’s Daniel Chopra.
The 29-year-old Thai enjoyed a sensational 2018 when he ended a five-year title drought with his victory in February. He also became the first Thai golfer in history to earn a PGA Tour card.
Wrapping up his whirlwind of a season, Kiradech took a well-deserved layoff from golf to spend time with his family but admits he is feeling nervous ahead of the season-opener.
“I was really excited to play this event. I have been taking it so easy in the off season. I took five weeks off and did not play golf because I just wanted to spend time with my family and friends.
“Standing on the first tee I was very nervous in the first couple of holes during my practice round. It feels like I am not ready to get back into tournament mode. But who knows, maybe things will turn around because I am so relaxed and not thinking too much,” said Kiradech.
The decorated player is looking forward to his debut season on the PGA Tour, but he still recognizes the importance that home events play on aspiring talents in Thailand.
“Having Boonchu host an event is so important. It is great to have so much support for Thai golf from the sponsors and veterans on Tour. I always appreciate having good mentors around me like Boonchu and Thongchai who have become big brothers to me. It would be nice to win a trophy in his name,” added Kiradech, who claimed his third ADT victory last season.
Coming right off a third Asian Tour victory, compatriot Poom Saksansin hopes to bring over his winning momentum into the new year, with a new caddy, his father, on the bag this week.
“It is nice to back on the Asian Tour and playing in familiar conditions. I feel good about my game after winning in December and I hope to start the year on a good note,” said the 25-year-old Poom.
“I know I will have to play really well this week if I want to win. With a new caddy on the bag it will be a bit of a change. My father has only caddied for me twice before so hopefully we will work well together,” added Poom, who claimed his maiden ADT title in 2015.
American Trevor Simsby will make his debut this week on the ADT following a commendable performance at the Asian Tour Qualifying School where he made the mark with a tied-16th finish.
“It’s pretty exciting playing in my first event. I’ve been travelling around a lot in Thailand and Malaysia since Qualifying School ended. It was a bit of a culture shock. I’m getting more acclimated to the weather and my game feels like it’s in really good shape,” said Simsby, who previously played on the Web.com Tour.
The leading seven players on the ADT Order of Merit at the end of the season will earn playing rights on the premier Asian Tour for the 2020 season.
Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) points are offered on all ADT events with the winner earning a minimum of six OWGR points while the top-six players and ties earn points on a sliding scale.