Kiradech aims to end on a high
Jakarta, December 12: Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat will be seeking a grandstand finish to boost his world ranking hopes when the Indonesian Masters presented by Bank Negara Indonesia (BNI), Bank Mandiri, Bank Rakyat Indonesia (BRI), Bank Tabungan Negara (BTN) and Telkom gets underway at the Royale Jakarta Golf Club on Thursday.
As the Asian Tour’s season-ending and flagship event, the Indonesian Masters offers the winner 20 Official World Golf Ranking points (OWGR) and the 28-year-old will be hoping to take advantage of that to end his year with a flourish.
The Thai, who is currently ranked 56th in the world, hopes to crack into the world’s top-50 before the year is over. He is brimming with confidence following a string of impressive finishes which also included his Asian Development Tour (ADT) win at the Thongchai Jaideee Foundation last week. “The way I have been playing the last couple of months is fantastic. I am more confident to play this week especially since I have been striking the ball better. With Justin Rose and a lot of good players out here, it will not be an easy week. But with the way I am playing, I am still aiming high and I hope to keep knocking on the doors and giving myself more opportunities,” said Kiradech.
“It has been such successful year, I am very happy with the way I am playing and how confident I am in my swing. I think I proved to myself that I can get back to the top-50 or top-30 in the world. The Masters is one of the best events in the world, my aim is to be part of the field at the Masters and finish inside the top-five.”
India’s S.S.P. Chawrasia, who is sponsored by Take Solutions, is also looking for a result that will see him finish second on the Asian Tour Order of Merit after Malaysia’s Gavin Green had already slammed the door on his closest rivals with his unassailable lead. “This is my second last event of the year. I am playing one PGTI event in my hometown and then I am taking a break for this year. 2017 has been very good to me, with a lot of top of 10 finishes. Apart from my win at the Hero Indian Open, I would say I played my best game in Hong Kong. I am very happy about the fact that I am confident in my game and it shows I could win anytime at any tournament,” said Chawrasia.
“I am happy Shubhankar won last week so now I have a familiar face and partner in Europe next year. I had a good chance to win the Order of Merit at the start of the year but I didn’t do well in the final round in Hong Kong. So now my goal is to have a good finish in this event and finish second on the Order of Merit.”
Korean-American Micah Lauren Shin believes his week’s break from golf will put him in a better position to contend again. The rookie secured a memorable victory in the Philippines last month and is looking forward to tee off in his final event of the year.
Defending champion Poom Saksansin is determined to put up a strong defence against a stellar field that features Major winner Justin Rose of England along with American Brandt Snedeker, an eight-time winner on the US PGA Tour.
“It feels very good to be the defending champion. I still remember the feeling of winning last year here and I want to try and copy that. I am hitting it longer and that is what changed the most since I last played here. My putting is not as good but I hope to practice a bit these two days before the tournament starts,” said Saksansin.
“The golf course is pretty much the same so I can play the same game. I think it has been a good year for me. I have just been trying to keep myself in the top-10 on the Order of Merit. I went to the Japan qualifying school last week and I did not make it so I will just keep playing on the Asian Tour and get better. I don’t want to think too much about winning this week. I just want to do my best and see what happens.”
Did you know?
· First played in 2011, the Indonesian Masters has regularly attracted the best players in the world and boasts a list of famous winners.
· They include England’s Lee Westwood (2011, 2012 and 2015), Austrian Bernd Wiesberger (2013), India’s Anirban Lahiri (2014), Poom Saksansin (2006)
· Apart from a minimum of 20 Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) points, the winner of the Indonesian Masters will also receive an invitation to play at the WGC – Bridgestone Invitational in 2018.
· The Indonesian Masters is the third leg of the Panasonic Swing, which is an aggregate points race that spans five events – in Thailand, Malaysia, India, Indonesia, and Japan – where Asian Tour players can earn a share of a lucrative bonus pool.
· The Indonesian Masters is the last event of the year on any main Tour worldwide with significant OWGR points.
· The Asian Tour’s glamorous Awards Night will take place in the evening of the final day to reward all the winners of 2017 and help bring down the curtain on a memorable season.