Veteran Thai golfer Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand is prepared to take on a new role of a mentor when he represents Team Asia at the EurAsia Cup next week.
Team Asia captain Arjun Atwal of India will rely on the world No.49 Kiradech to put points on the scoreboard and to guide the younger players when they go up against Thomas Bjorn’s Team Europe at the Glenmarie Golf and Country Club.
There are as many as six Asia debutants in Gavin Green, Phachara Khongwatmai, Poom Saksansin, Li Haotong, Sunghoon Kang and Yuta Ikeda.
Other members of the team are Kiradech, Anirban Lahiri of India and Malaysian Nicholas Fung, who will make their third appearance in the EurAsia Cup.
At 29, Kiradech is seen as the ‘senior’ in the team as compared to his teammates Phachara, who will be the youngest player so far to play in the EurAsia Cup at the age of 18 followed by China’s Li (21). Reigning Order of Merit champion Green and Thailand’s Poom who are both 24.
“This is a big event for Asia and I really want to make Asia proud. I will bring all my experience with me and help my team and the new and younger players. There are so many ‘kids’ in the team and I will do my best to guide them and improve our team,” said Kiradech.
Kiradech will also be joined by Kang, a PGA Tour regular, Ikeda, the highest ranked player in Team Asia where he sits in 35th position on the Official World Golf Ranking and Hideto Tanihara, who was part of the 2014 team who secured a dramatic 10-10 draw against Team Europe.
“It is a big change for me. I would like to think that I’m the third generation of Thai golfers after Boonchu Ruangkit and Thongchai Jaidee. Now younger players look up to me and it is so different! They (Boonchu and Thongchai) even Arjun (Atwal) have done so well to inspire so many young golfers to play golf professionally.
“The young players in the team are so good and they will do well. They will just need some guidance from the more experienced players. We have a strong team this year. I have to congratulate Gavin (Green) because he played fantastic golf in 2017. So did the other players,” said the Thai.
Known for his grip-it and rip-it style of golf, Kiradech enjoyed a stellar 2017 season where he won on the Asian Development Tour (ADT) followed by two runner-up results on the European Tour.
He also finished tied fifth at the Asian Tour’s season-ending Indonesian Masters where he played through a back injury and eagled the 72nd hole to finish inside the top-50 in the world and qualify for The Masters in April.
The EurAsia Cup will feature 24 matches, with day one showcasing six Fourball matches, followed by six Foursomes matches and 12 Singles matches on the third day.