November 24, 2013
MELBOURNE, Australia -- Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat cemented his growing reputation as a global rising star when he finished fifth in the individual category of the ISPS HANDA World Cup of Golf on Sunday.
Tied with Japan’s Ryo Ishikawa as the top Asian finishers at the Royal Melbourne Golf Club, the 24-year-old Aphibarnrat, who currently leads the Asian Tour’s Order of Merit, ended his impressive campaign with a battling 1-under-par 70 and a 3-under-par 281 aggregate.
It was Aphibarnrat’s third top-five finish over the past two months, which included an eye-popping third-place finish at the CIMB Classic in Malaysia, an event sanctioned by the Asian Tour and PGA TOUR last month.
“Finishing top five again, I’m happy,” said Aphibarnrat, who earned $270,000 for his second World Cup appearance. “I tried to shoot under par every day. To finish 3 under on a course like this, I’m very happy. I stuck to my game plan and focused on my game. You can’t get mad at yourself, the way you hit, or even the flies on the golf course, if you get mad, everything will be gone as the greens here, it’s not easy to make birdies or to make a move.”
With the magnificent Royal Melbourne showing its teeth all week with the swirling winds and lightning-quick greens posing a stern test, Aphibarnrat was only one of 11 players who completed the week under par.
He finished seven strokes behind individual champion Jason Day of Australia, who wrapped up an emotional double by also teaming up with Adam Scott to lift the team title by a massive 10 shots from the United States team of Matt Kuchar and Kevin Streelman. Day won $1.2 million for his individual triumph and shared $600,000 with Scott.
“I think I’ve improved a bit … I think I’ve improved a lot,” smiled Aphibarnrat, who is ranked 67th in the Officlal World Golf Ranking. “I don’t get nervous or excited any more coming down the last few holes. I had birdie chances the last two holes but I wasn’t nervous. I’ve gotten better on this than before. Previously, after being in the top-five, I wouldn’t be able to do my normal things. This week, I think I’ve become better playing with the top players in the world.
“Hopefully I’ll jump up in the World Ranking. About 10 or 15 steps more to get into the world top 50. I’ll try to win one in the home event, the Thailand Golf Championship. I’m looking forward to playing in that. It’s important to get into top 50.”
With one hand on the Asian Tour’s Order of Merit where he leads by nearly $550,000, Aphibarnrat is hoping to receive invitations to compete in PGA TOUR events early next year to move closer to a 2015 card following his high finish in Malaysia several weeks ago.
“I’ll try to get some invites for next year in the U.S. I promise to anyone that if I can get some invites to the small or big events, I’ll come and play in their tournaments. I’m going to try my best to get my US (PGA) TOUR card. I think I need something like 110 FedExCup points more.
"I’m already like 90 percent going to win the Asian Tour Order of Merit which will get me into the British Open and WGC Cadillac Championship next year. I’ll try hard to get a PGA TOUR membership,” Aphibarnrat said.