The smooth-swinging Thai will tee up at the star-studded US$7 million CIMB Classic which starts on Thursday as one of the darkhorses after a rewarding past 10 months.
A win each on the Asian Tour and Japan Golf Tour, two titles on the domestic Thailand circuit and 12 top-20s across the region are indication that the Thai veteran star is not slowing down despite turning 50 in January.
“I still feel like a young player,” said the world number 89 at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club today. “My swing is quite natural and I don’t get injured easily. Physically, I feel good, I feel fit.”
Prayad, who still walks with a sprightly spring in his step, is keen to improve on his tied 44th outing in his previous CIMB Classic outing in 2013 although he feels the West course favours the bombers.
“KLGCC is suited for long hitters, especially for holes 12 and 13 which are critical holes. For me, I’ll be playing a lot of long irons. If the greens are firm, it will be tough. (But) I’m charged up seeing the top players here. I want to play well,” he said.
He earned his ninth Asian Tour title at the Queen’s Cup on home soil in June and went on to win a fifth career title in Japan at the Fukushima Open in the following month. He’s also not missed the cut in his last 11 starts in Asia and Japan.
Prayad feels he can keep winning on the main Tours and is not planning to switch to the senior tour. He said maintaining a strict stretching regime every morning and taking dips in the Japanese hot spring have helps protect his body.
“I’ve played steady golf this year. I can still keep winning even though I’m turning 50 in January. I want to keep going. I feel normal, I feel I can still win on the Asian Tour and Japan Golf Tour,” he said.
“I think I can still win when I’m 60. It’s all about the putting for me. My driving, iron play are very good. My eyesight is not so good although I’ve done the Lasik surgery some years ago and I have a tendency of missing the shorter putts. My driving distance has come down a bit but I’ve adjusted my game and I accept it that I am hitting it shorter.”
As expected, Prayad doesn’t spend hours at the range hitting balls but has a routine with his caddie to work on his accuracy and distance control whenever he’s back in Thailand.
“My caddie would go down the range and stand at a specific yardage and I’ll work on my distance control and accuracy and he’ll try to catch the balls that I hit. I’d work through my irons with this technique and it’s worked for me. Kiradech (Aphibarnrat) is also now following my practice routine,” he said.
Kiradech, Asia’s number in 2013, enjoyed a third place finish at the CIMB Classic two years ago. But don’t be surprised if Prayad matches or betters the performance this week.