Over the past ten years I have been fortunate to have met and interviewed most of the top golfers including Martin Kaymer, Lee Westwood, Bubba Watson, Sergio Garcia and even Tiger Woods.
Here in Thailand I have had the chance to follow the Thai superstar Thongchai Jaidee on many occasions, and it was Thongchai who originally introduced me to a young Thai player back in 2011 at the Malaysian Maybank Open….his name was Aphibarnrat. He spoke a bit of English, but relied on Thongchai to translate.
Kiradech Aphibarnrat Known as Arm
Move on six years and Kiradech Aphibarnrat has become a World star himself, having won over US $12 million on the Asian, European and now the PGA Tours.
At one stage he was ranked in the top 40 on the Rolex rankings before a knee injury at the 2019 Masters dropped him back to his current ranking of 115.
For the 2020 season Kiradech will start playing on the European Tour’s Middle East swing before moving back to his home in Florida to concentrate on the PGA Tour.
He has already achieved his boyhood dream by qualifying twice to play in the Masters at Augusta National.
I manage to regularly keep in touch with Khun Arm as he is known, as he still returns to Thailand several times a year.
Recently he turned up to play in the Thailand Golf Championship at the Phoenix Gold Golf and Country Club in Pattaya.
This was a Jaidee Foundation event to raise funds for his academy in Lopburi. Maybe as Arm was still playing with a sore knee, he shouldn’t have competed, but all the Thai pros love to turn out for their hero Thongchai.
Kiradech loves Pattaya
Kiradech loves coming to Pattaya, as he not only held his engagement party at the Hilton Pattaya, but also officially opened the new Lakes course a couple of years ago also at Phoenix Gold.
He told me at the time that he thought the 4th green on the Lakes course was very hard, like playing on an up turned frying pan. Maybe if you have played Lakes you know what he is talking about.
When I caught up with him on the last day of the 2019 Thailand Golf Championship, he was struggling a bit but told me he needed the practice.
That tournament was eventually won by young Jazz Janewattananod who won the Asian Tour Order of Merit and now is the highest ranked played in Thailand ranked at 38th on the Rolex rankings.
In fact, Jazz who comes from Hua Hin and is sponsored by Black Mountain, stayed with Khun Arm when they both were playing at Augusta. Arm showed him the ropes, just as Thongchai had done for Arm before.
Maybe that’s why the Thais are starting to make their mark on the World stage as they all like to stick together and help each other.
Written by Mike Bridge