Kiradech cruises to three-shot victory
Pattaya, Thailand, December 10: Kiradech Aphibarnrat underlined his status as Thailand’s number one golfer by lifting the Thongchai Jaidee Foundation trophy for the second time at the Siam Country Club’s Waterside course on Sunday.
Starting the round with a three-shot lead, Kiradech fired four birdies against two bogeys to close with a two-under-par 70. He won by three shots with a 14-under-par 274 total at the ฿4 million (approximately US$120,000) Asian Development Tour (ADT) event.
The 28-year-old Kiradech, who won the inaugural edition in 2015, took home a winner’s cheque of US$21,466 and received nine Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) points, which will put him closer to breaking into the world’s top-50 by the end of the season.
Asian Tour Qualifying School graduate William Harrold of England returned with a solid 66 to take second place while Thailand’s Pannakorn Uthaipas posted a battling 71 to settle for third place on 278 at the Thongchai Jaidee Foundation.
American John Catlin, a two-time ADT winner, carded a 71 to settle a shot back of Pannakorn in fourth place while Pawin Ingkhapradit of Thailand signed for a commendable 67 to take fifth place on 280.
“It was a tough day. Pannakorn and John were piling the pressure on me. I made a crucial par on the 16, hitting it 230 yards against the wind and two-putted on the green. That gave me some confidence and I managed to stay composed till the end to win,” said Kiradech.
“It has been a great week. It’s always great to win at home. This will give me some confidence heading into the Indonesian Masters next week too. The standard of play has improved a lot on the ADT. It’s great to see,” added Kiradech, Asia’s number one in 2013.
Kiradech, ranked 60th on the OWGR at the start of the week, also sang his praises for the record three-time Asian Tour Order of Merit champion Thongchai, who hosted the event for the third consecutive edition on the ADT this week.
“Thongchai did a very good job in hosting the players this week. It’s fantastic to see him giving back to the game by creating playing opportunities for the budding golfers in the region.
“The tournament is really well-organised and the course is in top condition. It’s just like a championship event,” Kiradech said.
Despite missing out on his second win, Pannakorn’s second runner-up result helped him move up one rung on the ADT Order of Merit, where he now leads with a season’s haul of US$54,827.
Japan’s Masaru Takahashi, who carded a solid 66 to finish 10 shots back in tied-12 position, trails by US$5,892 in second place on the money list.
Players will have everything to play for when they continue to battle for the ADT Order of Merit crown as well as the five Asian Tour cards on offer at the season-ending Boonchu Ruangkit Championship, which gets underway in a fortnight.
The leading five players on the final ADT Order of Merit at the end of the season will earn playing rights on the region’s premier Tour for 2018.
Leading final round scores:
274 – Kiradech APHIBARNRAT (THA) 65 71 68 70
277 – William HARROLD (ENG) 66 75 70 66
278 – Pannakorn UTHAIPAS (THA) 67 68 72 71
279 – John CATLIN (USA) 70 68 70 71
280 – Pawin INGKHAPRADIT (THA) 69 72 72 67
281 – Rattanon WANNASRICHAN (THA) 69 71 71 70, Pavit TANGKAMOLPRASERT (THA) 70 71 70 70, Seungjae MAENG (USA) 68 70 72 71, Oscar ZETTERWALL (SWE) 71 67 70 73
282 – Chawalit PLAPHOL (THA) 69 73 70 70
283 – Prom MEESAWAT (THA) 69 70 71 73
284 – Masaru TAKAHASHI (JPN) 71 72 75 66, Kasidit LEPKURTE (THA) 72 67 75 70, Daniel IM (USA) 70 68 73 73, Chanat SAKULPOLPHAISAN (THA) 69 70 72 73