It may have started as a joke, but for Kiradech Aphibarnrat it is a ‘pleasure to be Asian John Daly’
The 28-year-old Thai is finishing the year strongly and is still in the hunt at the Hong Kong Open
For many, the comparison between John Daly and Kiradech Aphibarnrat might seem like a bit of a laugh, but for the man himself it is anything but.
Dubbed Asian John Daly for the similarity in their swings, and also likely because of their shared penchant for a drink and a smoke, Kiradech is quick to embrace the moniker.
“It’s a good thing. John Daly was one of the best players in the world, he won two majors,” Kiradech said after shooting 68 in the third round of the UBS Hong Kong Open on Saturday.
“To be compared with John, it is my pleasure to be Asian John Daly. Maybe we have got a similar swing, but I haven’t won any majors yet so I will try to copy my idol.”
Like Daly, the Thai feeds off the crowd and he hopes they can give him a boost as he attempts to drag himself closer to the lead on the final day.
He sits at four under after a two-under-par round that featured four birdies and two bogeys, six shots behind leader SSP Chawrasia.
“All the fans are very nice, especially when I come back to Asia. Everyone is just awesome,” he said. “It’s nice to be here, there is nice weather, good fans and it feels like home. I have got my family here as well.”
The 28-year-old was left to rue a number of near misses on the greens on Saturday but he knows he is not that far off shooting a low score.
“I’m not playing well this week, I’m hitting a lot of shots but I can’t hole the putts. Overall, I’m still not in bad shape,” he said. “Today was an easier day than the first two days, less wind and the pin position is more giving to score. The back nine I had 18 putts, I just can’t make a putt but still went two under.”
It’s been a tough year for Kiradech, with some inconsistent form seeing his ranking drop as low as 160, however he has lifted that to 60 with vastly improved play in the past two months.
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The Thai credits some tinkering with his swing for his change in fortunes, but he assures fans the Daly likeness remains.
“I have been working with a new coach and it’s going the right way,” he said. “[My swing] feels like it’s changed a lot, but it doesn’t look like a big difference. For me it’s a huge difference, it’s tough to explain.”
A tie for second in last week’s season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai ensures he will enter 2018 with high hopes.
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“[I want] to get back to the top 50 in the world again, try to play in all the majors and keep knocking on the door,” Kiradech said.
And for a man known for his expensive taste when it comes to cars and watches, there will always be added motivation: “I work hard to get all of that stuff, it’s so expensive so that’s why I try really hard to play well.”