Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei: Kiradech Aphibarnrat cruised to a wire-to-wire victory at the inaugural US$60,000 Richard Mille Brunei Championships.
The world number 36 fired a final-round of three-under-par 68 to complete his domination of the event and clinch his third Asian Development Tour (ADT) title at the Empire Hotel and Country Club.
Thai Kiradech ended his campaign on 23-under-par 261 to win by six shots from American John Catlin, who closed with a 65 to finish in second place.
The 28-year-old Kiradech got off to a solid start by making the turn in 34 before adding three birdies against two bogeys on his homeward nine to claim his second title in 2018 following his victory at last month’s ISPS Handa World Super 6 Perth.
“On the back nine I lost my concentration a little bit. My target was to try and beat the course record of 61 and I was thinking too much. My putts were not dropping in the first five holes on the back nine. Hole 12 was a bad hole for me, where I hit a bad drive to the right and had to chip it out and then didn’t save par,” said Kiradech.
“Everyone was surprised when I took my driver on hole 15 because it should just be a three-iron off the tee, but I had nothing to lose and I had a seven-stroke lead so I just wanted to change it up and I made a birdie on that hole.”
A large crowd gathered to watch the popular Thai’s Saturday stroll.
“It surprised me that so many people came out to watch despite the hot and humid weather. It feels fantastic to win again, I didn’t have too much pressure on me today, I was just enjoying my round and playing my own game,” said Kiradech.
“The level of competition on the ADT has definitely improved. I just had a really good week which explains the big gap. But there’s so many top players behind me and I believe the ADT gives all these up and coming golfers the opportunity to make it to the bigger Tour. I hope to see these guys up there soon.”
With two wins under his belt, Kiradech will be heading to the US next week to play in the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play before going on to the Masters.
“I wanted to use this to gain confidence before I head back. I have been playing great golf over the last four weeks. I am hitting it well and my mind is in the right place so I am going back to the US in great form,” he added.
Catlin, a two-time ADT winner, snared six birdies on his flawless scorecard while Thai Itthipat Buranatanyarat took third place following a 71. Indonesian Danny Masrin shared fourth with Singapore’s Quincy Quek on 271.
Kiradech took home the winner’s cheque for US$10,500 and received nine Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) points which will bring him closer to his goal of finishing inside the top-30 at the end of 2018.
The leading five players on the final ADT Order of Merit at the end of the season will earn playing rights for the Asian Tour in 2019.
The Asian Tour is a Full Business Member of the Asian Golf Industry Federation.