Aphibarnrat leads Asian challenge in Mauritius Open

15_Mauritius_AphibarnratK_previewNEWBig-hitting Thai star Kiradech Aphibarnrat will lead the region’s charge at the inaugural AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open with four other former Asian Tour Order of Merit champions next month.

Tri-sanctioned by the Sunshine Tour, European Tour and Asian Tour, the €1 million (approximately US$1.1 million) tournament will see a gathering of luminaries from the three major Tours, which Kiradech believes will positively impact the growth and development of global golf.

Countryman Thaworn Wiratchant, a two-time Asian Tour number one, China’s Liang Wen-chong, Order of Merit champion in 2007, and Indian duo Jyoti Randhawa and Arjun Atwal, number one in 2002 and 2003 respectively, will also be in the elite field at the award-winning Heritage Golf Club from May 7-10, 2015.

Kiradech emerged as Asia’s top player following a magnificent 2013 season, but failed to sustain his good form following the demise of his long-time swing coach. He has since shown glimpses of his old form with an impressive top-10 outing at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in the United States, while his engagement to girlfriend Thanyarat Chaiyarat has also put him in a good frame of mind.

“I feel very excited and proud that we are going to compete in first ever tri-sanctioned tournament in Mauritius,” said the 25-year-old Kiradech, who is a two-time Asian Tour winner.

“I have never been to Mauritius, and I’m looking forward to my first trip. We’ve always had co-sanctioned tournaments with Europe, and I think it’s good to see the Asian Tour working closely with the Sunshine Tour for the first time.”

“This will allow our players to travel to new places, help open our eyes and see what golf is like elsewhere and experience different playing condition,” continued Kiradech.

Kiradech, who is a former world amateur champion, will not be surprised if an Asian Tour member triumphed at the inaugural event. Asian Tour players have strung an unprecedented five successive wins in co-sanctioned tournaments with the European Tour since last September.

“I feel the Asian Tour and European Tour players are playing at the same level. We have won the last five co-sanctioned tournaments, and I think we are moving up in the right direction,” said Kiradech, whose long-hitting game is set to be a crowd puller at the Heritage course.

“It will be fun to compete in Mauritius as I am sure it will be very relaxing as it is a famous holiday isle. When you’ve got nothing in your mind, you tend to play good golf, and I’m like that.

“My game feels good now and I have confidence with my swing and equipment. I’m ready to start winning again, and Mauritius would be a great place to win another title. I’ve been struggling over the past year and haven’t won since 2013.”

“I feel happy now with my life, and it’s a good time now for me. I recently got engaged, and my top-10 on the PGA Tour is very encouraging. I want to keep moving up the world ranking and see if I can challenge for the Asian Tour Order of Merit title again this season,” said Kiradech.

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