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Golf: Kiradech conquers European Tour’s new matchplay event

Kiradech Aphibarnrat survived a late wobble to win the Saltire Energy Paul Lawrie Matchplay. Photo: European Tour.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat survived a late wobble to win the Saltire Energy Paul Lawrie Matchplay. Photo: European Tour.

August 3, 2015: Kiradech Aphibarnrat kept his cool to conjure a magnificent, tournament-winning approach to the final green to beat Robert Karlsson by one hole in the final of the inaugural Saltire Energy Paul Lawrie Matchplay.

 

The 26-year-old Thai was three up with four to play before losing the 15th, 16th and 17th holes, but held his nerve at the 18th to secure his third European Tour title and second of the 2015 season in quite sensational style.

 

“This is a very important win for me because it is the first time I have won outside Asia,” Kiradech said.

 

“I have always said that we are just a little small country in Asia and that my next step was to win in Europe, so I am so happy and so proud of myself that I was able to prove we also can win out of Asia. It’s an important win for Thai and all Asian players.”

 

Kiradech ended hopes of a home win when he saw off Scotland’s Marc Warren in the last four on Sunday morning. In the final, he took a two-hole lead after birdieing three of the first four holes, and increased his advantage at the sixth as Karlsson twice tangled with the heavy rough.

 

Karlsson reduced the deficit to just one hole after firing birdies at the eighth and ninth, but Kiradech took the 11th and 14th to return to three up. The Swede drew level with two birdies and a par at the next three holes and looked to be in control on the 18th when he fired his second shot to 10 feet.

 

However,  Kiradech responded with interest, producing a wonderful second shot at the last, and after Karlsson had missed his putt, this year’s Shenzhen International winner rolled in from four feet to seal the victory.

 

“I was striking the ball well and hitting it so good on the front nine, but then I lost a bit of energy and control,” Kiradech said.

 

“I started pulling some drives, but I putted very well today and sank a lot of important putts – especially the putt to win, which was very short but it was great to see it hit the middle of the hole. I didn’t have high expectations this week. I just came here and tried to enjoy the whole experience of playing in Scotland.”

 

Tournament host Paul Lawrie was delighted with the first edition of the tournament. “The feedback from the players has been brilliant,” Lawrie said. “They have all loved the course so we look forward to trying to make the event bigger and better.”

 

Source: The European Tour (www.europeantour.com); Editing by SportAsia

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