Kuala Lumpur, April 4: Thai star Kiradech Aphibarnrat hopes to preserve the memory of his late coach by putting on another winning performance in his title defence of the Maybank Malaysian Open later this month.
The reigning Asian Tour number one will be aiming for a repeat victory against a star-studded field in the US$2.75 million event at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club from April 17-20.
The burly Thai will face strong challenges from former Malaysian Open champions Lee Westwood, Louis Oosthuizen, Matteo Manassero and Thongchai Jaidee, the Asian captain at the recent EurAsia Cup presented by DRB-HICOM, along with other stars from the Asian Tour and European Tour.
Since winning the Asian Tour’s Order of Merit crown in 2013, Kiradech has yet to reproduce his best golf after losing his coach, Natpasit Chokthanasart, nicknamed Pro Jew, who passed away last December.
“After I lost my coach, my mental approach has been different and I have lost some confidence. I’ve been looking for a new coach with my manager but it isn’t easy because I worked with Pro Jew for such a long time,” said Kiradech.
However, he will attempt to ride on the euphoria of helping Team Asia share the inaugural EurAsia Cup with Team Europe after contributing one and a half points in the team’s stunning fightback in Kuala Lumpur last weekend.
Kiradech defeated Dane strongman Thomas Bjorn 2 &1 in the final day singles session which he hopes will be the catalyst to more victories in 2014. Asia fought back from 0-5 down on the first day to tie Europe 10-10.
“After the first day, finishing five-nil behind Team Europe, I didn’t expect that we were going to come back to share the trophy. Our team did a great job to fight and to share the trophy is a good result. I’m just happy,” said Kiradech.
A return to the KLGCC will bring out the best from Kiradech after he defeated a host of stars in the 2013 Maybank Malaysian Open.
“I have a lot of confidence playing at KLGCC. From the beginning of the year I haven’t found my best golf game and best week yet. I hope I can play well at the Maybank Malaysian Open to bring all my confidence back.
“The KLGCC course is a long course with tight fairways so it suits my game because I have the length. I like the greens and I read the lines very well. That explains why I’ve always enjoyed a good result there,” said Kiradech.