Jakarta, Indonesia: Thais Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Thongchai Jaidee claimed the top accolades at the 2013 Asian Tour Awards Night.
At the event held in Jakarta for the first time ahead of this week’s CIMB Niaga Indonesian Masters, Kiradech swept the Players’ Player of the Year title and Special Achievement Award to go with the Order of Merit crown.
Thongchai was named the Player of the Decade (2004-2013), an award voted by the players in conjunction with the Asian Tour’s 10th season last year following its establishment as a players’ organisation in 2004.
The 24-year-old Kiradech won once and posted five other top-five finishes in 2013 to earn more than US$1 million, only the second man to achieve the feat in Asian Tour history.
“My success on the Asian Tour would not have been possible without strong support from my family. I want to thank them and I also want to pay tribute to my late coach Natpasit Chokthanasart (nicknamed Pro Jew) who passed away late last year. He played a key role in shaping my game and made me become the player that I am today,” said Kiradech.
Also feted were the Asian Team that staged a memorable comeback to share the inaugural EurAsia Cup with Team Europe in Malaysia last month.
Like Kiradech, Thongchai also bagged a hat-trick of awards, taking home the Lowest Stroke Average (69.46) and Greens in Regulation (75%) titles along with the Player of the Decade title. The other nominees were Indian Jeev Milkha Singh, Thai Thaworn Wiratchant and Korean duo KJ Choi and YE Yang.
“I’m very thankful to the Asian Tour as this is the Tour that gave me my first big break. It also provided me with numerous opportunities to develop my game and compete on the global stage. I’ve witnessed tremendous growth in the Asian Tour since it was established,” said Thongchai, who has an unprecedented three Asian Tour Order of Merit titles and 13 victories under his belt.
Canadian Richard T. Lee scooped the Rookie of the Year Award after his memorable debut season where he posted three top-10s to finish 32nd on the Order of Merit. Lee has since claimed his maiden Asian Tour title, winning the Solaire Open in Manila last month.
Australian Scott Hend, who enjoyed victories in Thailand, Chinese Taipei and Macau, won the Driving Distance category with an average driving distance of 317 yards. He has now earned this bragging right on four occasions since 2009.
Brazil’s Adilson Da Silva proved to be the straightest driver on Tour when he won the Driving Accuracy Award with 77.23% of fairways hit and Thailand’s Chapchai Nirat chalked up the most number of birdies to become the Birdie Leader of 2013 with a haul of 308 birdies.
Indian veteran Singh was the best putter last year with his 1.71 putts per green in regulation ratio.
The Amata Spring Country Club, host venue to the Thailand Golf Championship, was voted by the players as the Best Golf Course for the third consecutive year while Alpine Golf Resort, venue of the inaugural Chiangmai Golf Classic presented by PTT, was recognised as the Best Golf Resort for its club facilities and amenities.
Fashionable Swede Rikard Karlberg, a two-time Asian Tour winner, was named the Volvik Best Dressed Player for 2013.