Tuesday, 15 April 2014
Kiradech Aphibarnrat   (Getty Images)
Kiradech Aphibarnrat (Getty Images)

 

Defending champion Kiradech Aphibarnrat is hoping a new coach and an alteration to his swing will help him rediscover his best form in this week’s Maybank Malaysian Open.

The Thai won by one shot at Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club last year, holding off Italy’s Edoardo Molinari with a final round of 70 after the tournament was reduced to 54 holes due to heavy rain storms throughout the week.

Victory in the US$2.75million event helped Aphibarnrat secure the Asian Tour Order of Merit, but this year he has struggled to reproduce the same kind of performance and has struggled to come to terms with the death of his coach, Natpasit Chokthanasart, in December.

“Losing my coach affected me mentally and affected my game,” said the 24 year old. “We spent a lot of time together. After he died, I couldn’t sleep for a couple of days. It felt like I’d lost my father and all my confidence was gone. 

“We talked about how we would win Major tournaments together. I didn’t expect him to die at such a young age. He was only 58 years old.”

A return to the scene of his maiden European Tour victory, however, has Aphibarnrat excited again about what lies ahead.

“I have a lot of good memories here,” he continued. “I haven’t been playing very well in the first three months because of my swing. But every time I tee off here, I get a lot of energy and good vibes to play well. I have a lot of confidence playing here.

“My new coach, Pompetch Saraputti, was one of the Thai national team players when I was young, and we had the chance to play together. He got an injury so he had to quit golf. 

“He knows my game and swing very well, and he’s made one small change in my swing which has been working for me. He will be here with me this week.”

Aphibarnrat is part of a strong field in the Malaysian capital, with Lee Westwood, Louis Oosthuizen, Matteo Manassero and Thongchai Jaidee also in action after flying in straight from the Masters Tournament.

Young Englishman Garrick Porteous, who won the 2013 Amateur Championship, will make his professional debut, and his compatriot Matthew Fitzpatrick, the 2013 US Amateur champion, is also in the field after playing at Augusta National last week.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1WESTWOOD, LeeENG18-18
T2WIESBERGER, BerndAUT18-11
T2OOSTHUIZEN, LouisRSA18-11
T2COLSAERTS, NicolasBEL18-11
T5WILLETT, DannyENG18-10
T5KARLBERG, RikardSWE18-10

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