Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat, a burly big-hitter, beat Swede Robert Karlsson with a last-hole birdie in the 18-hole final on the outskirts of Aberdeen after knocking out Marc Warren, the last remaining home hope, in the morning semi-finals.
That took third seed Aphibarnrat three up against his 45-year-old opponent, who was perhaps feeling the effects of nearly squandering a three-hole lead with six to play before edging past David Howell on the 20th hole of their semi-final.
“My next step was to win in Europe, so I am happy and so proud of myself”, he said.
His drastic change in fortune looked even gloomier when Karlsson landed his second shot on the 18th to within 10 foot of the pin.
After Karlsson dragged his birdie attempt wide, Aphibarnrat made his putt to clinch a third European Tour title and a first prize of 122,000 pounds ($190,000). “I was happy with that”.
The 26-year-old found himself three ahead with just four holes to play at Murcar Links Golf Club, but stuttered over the closing holes and needed to slide in a close-range birdie at the last to claim a second European Tour title of the season.
“My body was getting so exhausted, so my swing wasn’t at 100 per cent, but I just tried to hit my shots”, the Thai told the European Tour website. I remember a long time ago some guy kept telling me that if I had a long backswing I would not grow up to be a professional.
The home favourite took an early lead against Howell in the third/fourth place play-off, but fell behind on three separate occasions across the back nine and was unable to card a three at the last to force the tie in to extra holes. “I started pulling some drives but I have to say I putted very well today and sank a lot of important putts – especially the putt to win”.
Despite the defeat, Karlsson was pleased with his display. “I had a good run last year in the middle of summer when I played nicely, but it’s nice to get this one under the belt and hopefully carry on the next few weeks”. “It’s been a great week and the players have really enjoyed it”. In match play you get them every day and every hole.