Thai star Kiradech Aphibarnrat will launch his own golf academy in Bangkok later this week to expand the legacy of his late coach and also to ‘give back’ to the game.
The big-hitting former Asian Tour number one, who won his first title on European soil last week for his second victory of the year, has invested and upgraded the driving range where he grew up as a junior golfer under Natpasit Chokthanasart, nicknamed ‘Pro Jew’ who passed away in December, 2013.
The academy, under the banner “Team Kiradech”, is aimed at creating a team of junior golfers capable of playing their way into the Thai national amateur squad and subsequently becoming leading professional golfers on the Asian Tour.
“I will be launching my training centre this Saturday. It was the place where I used to work on my game with my late coach,” said Kiradech.
“After his death, I would sometimes go back to the range and sit in his office whenever I missed his presence. He was like my second dad.
“One day, I just thought to myself ‘why not upgrade the driving range and set up an academy for young Thai golfers?’ I’m happy to do as this is for my late coach and also one way for me to give back to the game and help young golfers,” said the 26-year-old Kiradech.
Kiradech’s training centre, which has 52 driving bays, will be headed by his current coach Pompetch Saraputti and a team of teachers and trainers. Rules officials will also be brought in to teach the kids the rules of golf and the game’s etiquette.
The 2013 Asian Tour number one said he intends to invite fellow Thai greats such as Boonchu Ruangkit, Thaworn Wiratchant, Thongchai Jaidee and Prayad Marksaeng to mentor young golfers whenever their schedules permit.
“While the junior golfers will have access to our training programmes, they will also be exposed to the rules of golf. I will also spend time with the golfers whenever I’m not on Tour and share with them my experiences of touring life,” said Kiradech.
Kiradech will fly out to the United States for next week’s PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, which is the year’s final Major and he will be gunning for a strong showing to bolster his hopes of making the International Team for the Presidents Cup which will be held in Korea in October.
His win at the Paul Lawrie Matchplay, where he defeated former European number one and Ryder Cup star Robert Karlsson in the final, pushed him up to 67th position on the latest world rankings and 14th place on the International Team standings.
The top-10 in the International rankings by September 7 will earn automatic selection with two more wild cards to be picked by captain Nick Price to face the United States.
“I’m hoping to play well at the PGA Championship. Depending on the result, I might add a couple of other events before the cut-off date if I think I have a chance to break into the top-10,” said Kiradech, who contributed 1.5 points, including a singles win over Thomas Bjorn, in Asia’s draw with Europe at the inaugural EurAsia Cup in Malaysia last year.
“The win in Scotland was great and it meant a lot to me. It showed again that Asian Tour players can win tournaments in Europe. I enjoyed playing in the matchplay which suits my style as I am an aggressive player. Driving is a strong part of my game and it felt good all week and I played well to win.”
Kiradech finished tied 25th in his debut at the PGA Championship two years ago and was forced to withdraw from the tournament last year due to a knee injury.