KIRADECH APHIBARNRAT enters the punchy finale of the Korn Ferry Tour, which began Thursday, knowing full well that his PGA TOUR career is at stake.
But instead of worrying, the Thai star says he’s finally in a happy place again thanks to his family back with him and a new caddy to help him navigate turbulent times that are his World ranking from 30. 500 in recent years.
Kiradech, 32, is set to serve this week at the Albertons Boise Open presented by Chevron, the first of three finals on the Korn Ferry Tour. The top 25 players after three weeks will receive PGA TOUR cards.
“I’ve been playing better golf in the past two to three months. I’m happy with my swing and game, ”said Kiradech.
“My confidence is building and I think overall, it’s about confidence. This is the first time in my career that I have been in this situation. I don’t want to put myself under pressure because I still have my European Tour status in my pocket if I am not successful in the USA. “
The arrival of his wife Tunyantorn, mother Supunnikar and younger sister Sirinporn in the US last month and the hiring of a new caddy, Cole Pensanti coincided with Kiradech showing a glimpse of his best form.
In his prime, the stocky Kiradech won four European Tour titles and was the first Thai player to receive a PGA TOUR card in 2018.
He finished 39th in the 3M Open last month and finished 37th in the Wyndham Championship on Sunday – his best results of the 2020-21 season – and what was especially encouraging was his stats on strokes won.
“I was top 10 from tee to green at 3M and was 68th putting and last week I was 60th teeing green and 10th putting. A lot of good has happened. But it is more important now that I have fun playing golf again, ”he said.
“My family came to the US last month and will be with me for the next few weeks. It feels like i’m home. They weren’t planned to come, but everyone wanted to be here to support me in the latter part of the season. It makes a difference.
“I eat homemade Thai food and I feel like I’m in the same moment as I am playing good golf.
“I also enjoy working with my new caddy. He pushes and supports me with what I used to do, he knows when I’m confused, when I’m afraid of hitting bad shots, and he steps in and talks to me and gives me confidence.
“I was now in the top 30 in the world to 500 – and this game can spin so fast. But I will certainly carry more self-confidence into the next three weeks. “
Kiradech admitted he was stuck in a bad spot after missing 10 cuts out of 12 starts before slowly turning the corner last month. His work with mental trainer Lee Campbell also helped prepare him for the next three weeks.
“We talk a lot. Sometimes I just can’t control myself and I don’t get the right club selection or the right shots. One of the big things Lee does is that he reminds me that I’m the same one who is in the top 30 in the world was, ”said Kiradech.
“It was a very difficult time missing all of these cuts. It was a fight. I tried to work harder, to practice harder. The PGA TOUR fields are so much stronger and when I’m not playing my best I just try to make the cut and turn 50.
“If I can do my best again, I have a lot of chances. I have the game of being up there and knocking on the door again. Now it takes me a good week to come back.
“The past week has brought me a lot of positive things in every part of my game. For the next three weeks, my only goal will be to play smart, stay focused, and enjoy golfing. I know that I don’t have to be perfect and play my own game. ”- PGA-TOUR