Kiradech Denies Home Hope Li in Extra Time

Kiradech celebrates after holing the winning putt. Picture by Getty Images.
Kiradech celebrates after holing the winning putt. Picture by Getty Images.

Shenzhen, China: Overnight leader Kiradech Aphibarnrat rallied late on to force a play-off with and then beat Chinese teenage sensation Li Hao-tong at the inaugural Shenzhen International.
Li, having completed his round, was watching on TV to see if he would become the first Chinese player to win a European Tour event on home soil when Kiradech sensationally eagled the 17th with a putt of 18 feet to emerge from a congested leaderboard and draw level on 12-under-par.
An excellent approach from a fairway bunker gave the Thai a putt to win the tournament but his effort slipped to the right of the hole, meaning he and Li would play the 18th again.
Kiradech, whose only other European Tour victory had come at the 2013 Maybank Malaysian Open, repeated his approach to find the middle of the green while Li left himself a much longer putt.
And after the 19-year-old made a four for par, Aphibarnrat sunk a beauty for birdie and celebrated loudly in contrast to the stunned crowd.
Kiradech said: “Special thanks to my caddie, he was always pushing me. When we were two behind on the last two holes he said ‘you have not lost, we have not signed the scorecard yet’ and he was completely right.
“I had a chance to win in 72 holes but the putt in the play-off is the best putt I have ever made in my life.”
The 25-year-old has had a tough time since winning in Malaysia, adding: “I’ve been struggling for a year. I lost my coach (Natpasit Chokthanasart, who died in December 2013), changed my equipment. It’s a big changing time after I won.
“It’s been like that for a while. I haven’t been at the top of the leaderboard but finally I had the chance to do it. It was tough to stay there.”

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