Thai star Kiradech Aphibarnrat equalled his best finish in the Majors by finishing 15th at the US Open at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club on Sunday as he took another big step towards securing his PGA Tour card for next season.
The 28-year-old Kiradech closed with a 3-over 73 in the final round, which included a closing birdie on the demanding 18th hole for a four-day total of 9-over 289. He emerged as the leading Asian, finishing one stroke ahead Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama (66) and China’s Li Haotong Li (69) who were amongst those in T16.
American Brooks Koepka successfully retained his title by one shot with a final round 68, holding off a fast-charging Tommy Fleetwood of England who matched the US Open low with a superb 63. Koepka, who became the first repeat winner at the U.S. Open since Curtis Strange in 1989, totaled 1-over 281.
Starting the week, Kiradech set himself a goal of finishing in the top-30 in what was only his second US Open appearance. But entering the final day three shots off the lead following a third round 68, the likeable Thai was disappointed with his final 18 holes on Sunday.
“It was a tough day. I didn’t hit enough fairways or greens unlike the third round and that makes it tough here. I’m happy with my final position as I wanted top-30 but I’m quite disappointed I didn’t put any pressure on the leaders at all. I was three shots back at the start of the day but I didn’t stay in contention,” said Kiradech, who had finished T15 at the 2016 Masters Tournament.
Kiradech, a former Asian Tour No. 1, turned in one-over with three bogeys against two birdies but battled to stay within the top-15 despite three more dropped shots. He signed off with an 18-foot birdie conversion on 18, which was ranked the toughest hole during the final round.
“This week was all about being patient and positioning the ball well. But I think I tried to control my game too much today to avoid the trouble and it didn’t work out. I wasn’t as aggressive as I would normally play,” said Kiradech, who rose two rungs to 29th in the latest Official World Golf Ranking.
As a Special Temporary Member of the PGA Tour, Kiradech earned an equivalent of 61 FedExCup points to increase his season’s tally to 401 points. Last season, the 125th ranked player, J.J. Henry, kept his tour card by earning 365 points which puts Kiradech firmly in position to secure his card for 2018-19.
“I think I’m almost there to get my PGA Tour card. I was told 380 points would probably be good for this season (to reach the 125th ranked position),” said Kiradech, whose 401 points would rank him 89th in the latest FedExCup points standing if he was a full member.