Kiradech Aphibarnrat storms into contention at PGA

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HE is known as Asia’s version of John Daly but little-known Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand made a name for himself by storming into contention at the PGA Championship yesterday.

The 24-year-old’s hefty physique and big-hitting, go-for-broke style of play have drawn comparisons to that of Daly and he lived up to the billing, finishing his opening round three shots ahead of world number one Tiger Woods.

Aphibarnrat, who changed his name for good luck and gave up car racing three years ago to appease his worried mother, showed no nerves while playing in only his second major, where he hopes to improve on his missed cut at last month’s British Open.

“It was great golf for me and a good start for my second major,” Aphibarnrat told reporters after carding a two-under-par 68 at sunny Oak Hill Country Club.

“I was doing good in the (British) Open but struggled in the second round. I was a bit nervous, but I have learned from the experience of that major and will just try to work it out on the game tomorrow.”

Calling car racing too dangerous, Aphibarnrat decided to give up the sport in favour, a decision that sent his pleased mother into tears of joy on her birthday.

“It’s a big difference,” said Aphibarnrat, who won the Malaysian Open in March