In this week's Player Blog presented by Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Kiradech Aphibarnrat opens up on his joy at being back on the DP World Tour, his battle to stay there, almost giving up due to his loneliness in the United States and how Covid changed the course of his career.
Everyone knows that I came here from the Asian Tour, but the DP World Tour feels like my second home. I was really glad and happy to return and it was nice to see that everyone has welcomed me back. There's nowhere else where I feel as comfortable and I want to play as much as I can on the DP World Tour right now.
Over the last five years, I've not been playing my best golf in the States. I lost my confidence and have not felt comfortable on the golf course but as soon as I came back to the DP World Tour everything changed, my mindset, feelings and everything. I'm really looking forward to having a great result and I'm aiming for a win which would make things easier.
The players over here are very friendly and I feel much more comfortable on the DP World Tour. It's quite lonely on the PGA TOUR, the players are a little more individual and that's why I really enjoy it over here. It's great having some fellow Thai players as well, I have more friends here and it feels like home. People ask how everything is going and whether you play your best golf or bad golf you can describe your rounds, explain what is going on and work out how to improve. It's a totally different game and I think my game is more suited to DP World Tour courses as well.
I sometimes regret going to the PGA TOUR almost full time. I moved to the States for five years and it's hard to live somewhere you don't feel comfortable and where everything is not flowing. I like the DP World Tour because I can play four or five weeks and then go and stay at home in my bed and spend time with my family. The PGA TOUR cards available next season are not my main goal, I just want to play golf and enjoy myself.
I've played 15 years on Tour and ten years on the DP World Tour and enjoyed success. I've already made the story about Thai players on the PGA TOUR and everyone was very happy about it but I don't feel I need to spend my life working on it.
I thought about giving up. I'd been talking to my family and my dad said, 'it's not working, if you don't feel comfortable why do you still do it? If you're not enjoying working, just quit'. I was thinking of early retirement but as long as I still enjoy this game and my work, that is the main reason I still play. I still talk to my dad every week about how it is going and how life is.
I'm really battling to work my way into the top 110 in the DP World Tour Rankings in Partnership with Rolex and that's the reason that I've played in the last six events, as well as this week. I have no choice at the moment as I'm trying to remain on the DP World Tour. I don't know how it will work out but I'm trying to do everything that I can.
It feels more difficult fighting for my card than trying to win tournaments. Trying to finish in the top five for Rankings points is not easy so I'm just trying to win the event. I have four wins under my belt and I'm trying to add another one in the next few weeks.
It's looked like my game is much better. I've been struggling and playing bad golf for two years but over these past six or seven weeks I've had a couple of top tens and decent finishes and that's the way I expect to play.
Madrid was just one good week. I was knocking on the door at the top but started my third and final rounds really slowly so I didn't have much of a chance to take the trophy. I didn't play very well in the final round but at least I put myself in contention.
I've played a lot of decent golf in the last couple of weeks, but something is stopping me from finishing great. I just need a changing point and it's a mental thing as well. I'm working really hard to try and get from a six out of ten to a ten out of ten. I keep stopping at six and I need to keep going until ten and that's what I'm trying to do right now. Sometimes I'll play good golf, but I just need to prove myself a little bit and one good week could be a changing point.
If I have to go to the Q School, I will do that. The DP World Tour is where my career started, I got into the top 30 in the world because of the DP World Tour and I feel every time I come back here, everybody cares about me, it's like a family. I will make sure I have my Thai caddie on the bag if I have to go to Q School. Having a Thai caddie helps but it's not easy for us to get visas without a set schedule.
The big change in my golf career so far came with Covid. I was playing at THE PLAYERS in 2020 when it hit and when the tournament was cancelled after the first round I went back home because we did not know how bad it was going to be. I decided to go back to Thailand and I think that is the worst decision that I've made in my career.
Thailand closed the borders during Covid so I couldn't fly out to play and I was in Thailand for eight months with virtually no golf, as the golf courses were not open the first six months. I first hit a ball again maybe a month before I played a tournament, but I got back I had forgotten the feeling of playing golf events and that started to build year after year. I didn't handle the pressure or see the shots as well as I did before and I struggled for two years after Covid.
Thongchai Jaidee was really inspiring. I've been watching Thongchai since I was a kid. He played golf at 19, turned pro at 30, had so much success and worked so hard, I always dreamed one day I would be like him. To achieve similar things as him is a dream come true and he has given a lot to Thai players. He has been teaching at home and does everything he can to help. I hope that young players in Thailand are working hard after having seen me and Thongchai working so hard in the past.
Winning the Maybank Malaysian Open was important as it opened up the gates to the DP World Tour and then when I won the Paul Lawrie Match Play, I proved I could win outside of Asia and Australia. The win in Scotland proved to me that I could win in Europe which was very important and built my confidence. I was trying to prove that the whole time.
It's nice to have good fans. I'm glad that the fans support me and really push an Asian player like me along. They give me so much energy when I'm playing.
I love to drive and I love cars, which is why I can't wait to get home. I have a Ferrari F12, a Ferrari 430 Scuderia, a Porsche 911 GT3 RS and a Lamborghini. I never have a chance to drive unless I'm at home so hopefully I can secure my card and get home early.