Aphibarnrat hopes to match McIlroy
Published 22/04/2015 | 14:41
Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat will look to take a leaf out of Rory McIlroy's book by claiming his second European Tour title in succession in the Volvo China Open this week.
Aphibarnrat won the inaugural Shenzhen International in dramatic fashion on Sunday, making an eagle on the 17th in the final round to force a play-off with home favourite Li Hao-tong, before producing a winning birdie on the first extra hole.
And the 25-year-old would love nothing more than to taste further success at Tomson Shanghai Pudong Golf Club to become the first player to win back-to-back events since McIlroy's victories in the Bridgestone Invitational and US PGA Championship last year.
"I'm looking forward to going back to Thailand next week and seeing all my friends and family, especially my dad and my fiancee," Aphibarnrat said. "It's been great, the last few days. I've had a few days to celebrate my win.
"But it's back to business again this week and hopefully I can make it back-to-back wins in China. I'm obviously swinging it well so I won't be changing anything. I'll try to remember the good feeling I had when I made the winning putt on Sunday and try to carry that through with me this week."
Li looked certain to claim his first European Tour title on Sunday when he carded a closing 67 to set the clubhouse target, only to be denied by overnight leader Aphibarnrat's brilliant finish.
The 20-year-old at least had the consolation of climbing from 194th in the world rankings to a career-high 125 and expects to shake off a back injury which kept him out of the pre-tournament pro-am on Wednesday.
" I didn't feel well this morning, my back felt a little bit tight when I got up," he said. "So I went to the physios after a little practice when I arrived at the club. Now I am feeling much better, hopefully it won't affect me tomorrow.
"Looking back to last week, I think I still need more experience in this kind of situation because I have never been in such a winning position before.
"However, it was good experience, maybe it's the price I have to pay for my age. I still have a long way to go and I still have many tournaments ahead."
France's Alexander Levy is the defending champion, although his victory 12 months ago came at Genzon Golf Club, which was the venue for last week's tournament.
Levy, who is aiming to become the first player to win the tournament twice, said: " I'm not thinking about winning again at the moment, my first aim is just to play well and to enjoy this week.
"I really like the course, I've never been here before but my first impressions are very good. It's tough and the greens are very firm, which we don't get very often on the European Tour. So it will be very interesting and I'm looking forward to the experience.
"Last week I struck the ball very well, but struggled a little with my short game. So if I can hit the ball as well as I did last week and hole a few more putts, I should hopefully be in for a good week."