Thai star Kiradech Aphibarnrat believes his swing, body and mind are now all in sync for him to charge up the golfing order beginning with the US$10 million World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship early next month.
The 28-year-old returned into the top-50 of the Official World Golf Ranking at No. 37 position after winning the ISPS HANDA World Super 6 Perth on Sunday for his fourth European Tour title, ending a two-and-half year winless run.
The big-hitting Kiradech intends to maintain his strong run of form, which started at the end of last year with five top-10s around the world over a two-month spell.
“This is the best I’m feeling about myself,” said Kiradech, a former Asian Tour No. 1. “My body, golf swing and the mental side of the game is feeling good. It’s the best I’ve felt in my career. I still have a lot of work to do and a lot of golf to play. I hope to have a big season.”
Over the years, Kiradech’s career has gone through peaks and troughs. However, he reckons he has found his equilibrium through his decision to work with swing coaches Pete Cowen and Mike Walker and dedicating himself to a sports psychologist for the first time as well as to a fitness trainer since the start of 2017.
“For the first six months, I struggled. I decided to spend time in the gym not just to lose weight but to also get stronger. I can’t get the best golf swing without being fit. And then when the swing was ready and my body was fit, you could see the results which was strong,” said Kiradech, who lost 13 kilos during the first six months of last year.
“I can’t thank my mental coach Lee Campbell enough. My attitude on the golf course has been much better. I’ve never seen a mental coach in my life before and it’s been a big change. Every day you see something different. I’m not moody on the golf course and I’m staying patient over my shots. When you stay patient, you don’t lose concentration.”
With his mind and game in a good place, Kiradech is ready to take the next step in his career and make his presence felt at the WGC-Mexico Championship, which starts from March 1-4. His best outing in a World Golf Championships event was T18 at the 2016 WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.
“I’m looking forward to the WGC-Mexico Championship. In my last WGC at the HSBC Champions, I was knocking on the door after two rounds (he was T3 going into the weekend but finished T24). Previously, I always thought the WGCs and majors are very difficult but we can knock on the door. My goal is to finish within the top-five in Mexico,” he said.
“With my game showing up in the last three months, I feel I can compete in any event around the world. If I can sink the putts, I have a chance. The way I’m striking the ball, it’s the best I’ve hit it in my career.”
His status in the world’s top-50 will see him feature in other leading tournaments in the United States, including the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play in Austin later in March followed by the year’s opening major, the Masters Tournament where he finished T15 in his debut in 2016.
Kiradech hopes to string together some strong performances in America to secure a PGA TOUR card. “I’m still trying to get my PGA TOUR card. I know it’s not easy and the standard of the TOUR is really high. By the end of my career, I just hope I can earn my TOUR card in the U.S. Right now, I want to get more wins and I want to be more consistent. I will play fewer tournaments this year but the intention will be to play more quality golf.”
Other leading Asians competing in the WGC-Mexico Championship include world No. 6 Hideki Matsuyama of Japan, Gavin Green of Malaysia, China’s Haotong Li and Shubhankar Sharma of India. Li and Sharma were also victorious on the European Tour in the weeks prior to Kiradech’s triumph in Perth. American star Dustin Johnson, the world No. 1, is the defending champion.