Thailand’s Kiradech eyes strong showing in CIMB Classic in debut season on PGA TOUR
Bangkok, September 21: Kiradech Aphibarnrat is looking forward to a memorable debut season as a PGA TOUR member after making history by becoming the first Thai golfer to earn playing rights on the world’s leading professional golf circuit.
The 29-year-old earned his PGA TOUR card for the 2018-2019 new season through the non-member category, thanks to a pair of top-five finishes at the World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship and WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play in addition to noteworthy performances including a T13 at the Memorial Tournament, T30 at THE PLAYERS Championship and 15th at the U.S Open.
Kiradech entered the 2017-18 PGA TOUR Season ranked 147th in the Official World Golf Ranking and is presently No. 38.
The popular Thai officially received his 2018-19 PGA TOUR card from Todd Rhinehart, Vice President and Executive Director, PGA TOUR in Bangkok on Thursday evening. Rhinehart also announced that Kiradech will receive a sponsor’s exemption to compete in the CIMB Classic, which is the second tournament of the new 2018-19 PGA TOUR Season, at TPC Kuala Lumpur from October 11 to 14.
Rhinehart said: “On behalf of the PGA TOUR, I would like to congratulate Kiradech for his success this year which has paved the way for him to become the first Thai golfer to earn a PGA TOUR card.
“This wonderful achievement will inspire a new generation of Thai and Asian players and continue to accelerate the growth of the game across Asia. We are also delighted to offer Kiradech an exemption to participate in the CIMB Classic at a venue which he won the Malaysian Open and finished third in the CIMB Classic in 2013. We look forward to seeing him play well against the stars on the PGA TOUR and wish him all the success in what is a new and exciting chapter in his growing career.”
In 41 career starts on the PGA TOUR, Kiradech has collected five top-10s, highlighted by a T3 at the 2013 CIMB Classic, which is the only PGA TOUR-sanctioned tournament in Southeast Asia. He is the winner of five international titles, most recently the 2018 ISPS HANDA World Super 6 in Perth, Australia. He was also the Asian Tour No. 1 in 2013.
Kiradech, known for his big-hitting and aggressive style of play, is looking forward to establishing himself quickly in the United States. “It means a lot to get my PGA TOUR card. I don’t really know how to describe it. From a little boy born in a little country in Asia, and to get my card and play on the PGA TOUR, my dream has come true. I am honored and so excited to become the first Thai golfer to earn a PGA TOUR card. It is certainly my goal to win tournaments on the PGA TOUR and I hope to have numerous opportunities to contend in the upcoming 2018-19 season,” he said.
“I have gained a lot of experience by competing around the world and I feel really comfortable now playing alongside the world’s best players. I look forward to playing my best golf on a weekly basis on the PGA TOUR. I hope I can make my country proud with my achievements. I also hope to inspire other Thai golfers and I’m sure I won’t be the first and last Thai player to get a PGA TOUR card.”
He is now turning his full attention on the US$7 million CIMB Classic which is one of three PGA TOUR tournaments staged in Asia in October.
“I am very thankful to receive a sponsor’s exemption and it will motivate me further as it is held on a golf course which I am very familiar with and have enjoyed success there over the years. It will be amazing if I can contend at the CIMB Classic against what looks like a very strong field,” said Kiradech