Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat off to Good Start at CIMB

Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat carded an opening round score of 5-under 67 in the first round of the CIMB Classic in Kuala Lumpor, Malaysia on Thursday. Which has him currently in a tie for fourth with Rory Sabbatini, Boo Weekley, Chris Kirk and Chris Stroud.

Kiradech is currently leading the Asian Tour's order of Merrit and is no stranger to the Kuala Lumpor Country Club, as he won here earlier in the year, winning the Malaysian Open on this same course in March.

His opening round 67 was good enough to be the low man in his group during round one, which included Nick Watney (75) and Phil Mickelson (71). Though his playing partners may be house hold names in the world of golf, Kiradech did not seem to give in to any pressure on the course Thursday -- And his played showed that.

“I’m very proud with the way I started today. I birdied the first hole and then missed a couple of chances but on the back nine, I hit five birdies. I played well and made a lot of putts which was fun,” said Kiradech.

“At the start, I felt a bit nervous. Before I hit my first tee shot (on the 10th hole which he birdied), I just thought about whacking the ball. I didn't think about wherever it was going to go, whether it would go into the water or hook into the left trees. I just tried to hit the first shot with a good feel. I’m glad I did.”

His win at the Malaysian Open earlier in 2013 was his first European Tour win, which was his third professional win since 2011 at the SAIL Open on the Asian Tour. Kiradech's first professional victory came in 2009 at the Mercedes-Benz Tour's Singha Pattaya Open. Winning in dominating style when he took home the championship by 11 strokes. The win garnered the then 19-year old 50,000 U.S. dollars.

Although his win at the Malaysian Open over Italy's Edoardo Molinari came at the same venue, Kiradech believes the West course is playing harder than it did in March.

“The rough is thick and the greens are firm and fast. It’s different putting on these greens and the lines seem different too. (But) I read the greens well [needing only 28 putts in round one]. I know the type of the grass but the rough is a bit different. It’s a good opening round and it will give me a chance to catch the leader. Three more rounds and I’ll stick to my game plan,” said Kiradech.

One of Asia's young emerging stars, a victory this week would vault Kiradech into a different class of golf. As with any player that wins this week, he would automatically get into the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, THE PLAYERS, The PGA Championship (T25 in 2013) and The Masters.

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