Thai golf star Kiradech Aphibarnrat admits he needs to overcome a mental hurdle if he is to regain his PGA Tour card via the Korn Ferry Tour Championship presented by United Leasing & Finance this week.
The 32-year-old enters the last event of the Korn Ferry Tour Finals in 22nd position of the ranking, with the top-25 earning PGA Tour memberships for the new season on Sunday. With his golfing fate in his own hands, Kiradech is determined to step on the plate and produce the right result to regain his playing rights after finishing outside the top-125 of the FedExCup standings at the end of the PGA Tour Regular Season last month.
“I believe every player is going to get some pressure going into the next four days. It can cost almost a whole year. Players between 15th to 25th in the ranking will feel it the most. I have to do really well in this last event. I know there will be a lot of stress and pressure on the final nine holes on Sunday,” said Kiradech.
The burly Thai has stumbled across the finish line over the last two weekends. He was tied second going into the final round of the Albertsons Boise Open presented by Chevron before finishing tied 20th with a closing 74 and at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship, he was cruising in the top-10 before dropping four bogeys on his back nine.
“Last three months, I feel more comfortable with how I’m swinging the golf club. Only one part of my game is the mental side. I can’t control myself well enough to get the job done. The last two weeks, I was tied second and shot 3-over. Last week, I was in the top-10 and shoot four over on the back and. There are a lot of good things, a lot of positive things but I can’t get my mental (strength) back at the same time. Hopefully I can do it this weekend,” said Kiradech.
“Going into Sundays, I can’t seem to get into tempo, can’t get the momentum that I used to get and I always do well in the final round. I guess it takes time. I don’t think it’s too far away.”
If things don’t fall to plan, Kiradech says he has the option to return and compete on the European Tour where he is a four-time winner. The European Tour and PGA Tour also have a strategic alliance and will co-sanction three tournaments in the new season.
“The PGA Tour is one of the biggest in the world, and everyone wants to be part of this Tour. I grew up in a small country in Asia, dreaming of playing on the PGA Tour and I’ve managed to do it for three years. I think it’s been a success as it’s always been my goal to play here,” he said.
“If you look at my career, I’ve played well on the European Tour and if I don’t play well this week, I have my European Tour card in my pocket. In my career so far, I have four wins there and my world ranking came up through the European Tour. Of course I still want to be part of the PGA Tour but it’s not easy to stay here. It’s a high standard and young college players come out every year and they are hungry too.
“I just want to enjoy my game in the next four days. I will try to enjoy the week and see what happens the next four days.”
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