Malaysian Open defending champion Kiradech Aphibarnrat is hoping his new coach Pompetch Saraputti can help him retain the title when the tournament starts at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club on Thursday. - Filepic
PETALING JAYA: Thai golfer Kiradech Aphibarnrat hopes his partnership with new coach Pompetch Saraputti will translate into another successful outing at the Maybank Malaysian Open.
The 24-year-old Kiradech, the reigning Asian Tour number one, enjoyed the biggest win of his career a year ago and hopes to make a successful title defence in the US$2.75mil (RM8.9mil) tournament.
Former world number one Lee Westwood of England, Major champion Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa, Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand, who is a three-time Asian Tour number one, and Italian Matteo Manassero are the top players headlining the event at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club starting on Thursday.
Kiradech has struggled to come to terms with the death of his former coach Natpasit Chokthanasart, nicknamed Pro Jew, who died last December.
“Losing my coach affected me mentally and my golf game. I stayed with him more than my dad. We spent a lot of time together. After he died, I couldn’t sleep for a couple of days.
“It felt like I had lost my dad and all my confidence was gone. We had talked about how we would win Major tournaments together. I didn’t expect him to die at a young age (58),” explained the burly Thai.
Pompetch is now in his stable and Kiradech is hoping the new partnership will be fruitful.
In the last two weeks, Pompetch has fixed some minor flaws that crept into Kiradech’s game.
“Pompetch was a former Thai national team player who had to quit golf because of an injury. He knows my game and swings very well and he made one small change in my swing which has helped especially with my iron play.”
The long-hitting Thai is one of the most exciting young stars to emerge from the Asian Tour.
It was only three weeks ago that he played in Malaysia, contributing one and a half points to Team Asia in the inaugural EurAsia Cup. The tournament ended with Team Europe drawing Team Asia 10-all at the Glenmarie Golf and Country Club.