7 (more!) reasons why Kiradech Aphibarnrat might be the world’s most interesting golfer
With all due respect to Miguel Ángel Jiménez, Kiradech Aphibarnrat — the vaping, freewheeling, Lambo-driving Thai superstar — might have supplanted MAJ as the world’s most interesting golfer.
Where to begin? How about with the video clip of the colorful PGA Tour pro hitting balls shirtless on the Kiatthada Driving Range in Thailand? When Aphibarnrat sat down recently with Drew Stoltz and Colt Knost on GOLF.com’s Subpar, Stoltz joked that the image was as iconic as Nicklaus raising his arm on the 17th green at the 1986 Masters.
Or the time Aphibarnrat thought about stripping down next to Tiger Woods?
“Five or six years ago, maybe my first or second major, maybe the PGA Championship, when Tiger just started getting back to play, I was on the left side of the range, and I’m hitting balls,” Aphibarnrat said on Subpar. “A lot of fans are behind us. Tiger shows up, walks across the bridge, walks down to the right side of the range — you see the people turn around to the right.
“Soon as I see everyone keeping their eye on Tiger, I could take my shirt off. Me and my caddie were laughing. No one was seeing me. I could get naked.”
Aphibarnrat, 30, who has been described as the “Asian John Daly,” revels in not concealing much. “I just love to play this game, I love to have fun with all spectators and my game is kind of fun — if I win, I win; if not, bye,” he said. “That’s why I have a couple of friends out here. It’s fantastic.”
Here are six more bits of naked truth about one of the game’s biggest personalities, as shared in his Subpar interview:
1. He bought a Mercedes with his first paycheck (even before he’d made his first paycheck)
“Before I get this first check,” he said, “I was driving with my dad to see the nice [car] showrooms and then I stop by, and I tell my dad, I need some pressure — just go in, buy the car.” Dad did as he was told, and when his son finally made a check, for $15,000, it went right back to the dealer. “I came back to see my mom,” Aphibarnrat recalls, “and she was like, ‘How are you doing, where’s the check?’ I spent it — I spent it all. Not even 10 percent — I spent it ALL. Me and my dad, she doesn’t even cook dinner — she goes into the other room and shut the door straight away.
2. Today he has nine cars. Or is it 1o?!
“One more is under the radar. My wife, my mom don’t know,” Aphibarnrat said. “I’ll still modify the engine. No one knows it yet. Soon, next six months, everyone will be surprised by my old, new car.” His new addition, he said, will have a whopping 1,600 horsepower.
3. He matches his clothes to his cars
As you do. If he’s wearing a suit, it’s the Ferrari. If it’s shorts, it’s the GT-R. Flip-flops get the Honda Civic.
“Don’t make me have five appointments,” he says. “Thailand has the worst traffic in the world, so I can’t go back home and change five cars.”
4. He rented an apartment for his shoes, which his wife believed he was using for something else
Right behind golf and cars on Kiradech’s passion scale are shoes.
“It’s about 300-500 pairs,” Aphibarnrat said. “Before I used to buy two pairs of shoes — one for keeping and one for wearing. And then last year, my lovely wife found out I was renting an apartment just to keep the shoes. She’s so mad — [she thought] I paid the room for some girl. OK, just come with me. Soon I open the rooms, and she was just like, Wow. She said, ‘I give you three days, get rid of everything, three days.’ I was like, Why?”
5. He may have been more nervous than any Masters rookie ever
The year was 2016.
“I was there on Sunday practicing, which is not a lot of spectators, maybe 10-15 per hole,” he said. “Then you show up on Monday, and there’s a little bit more on the tee. But then you show up on a Thursday, first day, first tee, my hand was shaking, and I was like, I can’t miss left or right, I’m going to hit one of them, and it’s going to be a great story of the Masters — I killed one of them in that group.
“OK, I’m going to try to hit it high, I’m not going to hit it low, high as I can, over the heads. For sure, I’m not going to snap low hook to kill someone.”
Aphibarnrat got over his jitters. He finished 15th that week.
6. He has big plans should he ever win the Masters
You might not want to stray far from your social feeds.
“We jump in the pool with the suit on, with the green jacket on,” he said. “If I win the green jacket, I will have live videos for two days. Everyone can see what I’m doing.”
7. He has never played with Tiger (but would love to)
It’d be a dream come true, if an awkward one.
“I can’t imagine if I play with him,” he said. “He’s going to feel weird, I think, if I’m looking at him every step that he walks. I started to play the game and one of the reasons was him. Twenty years ago, 25 years ago, Tiger was the best athlete in the world. He is more than a golfer. He makes incredible shots. He’s half Thai as well, and in Thailand, he’s a magical guy.”
And what would Aphibarnrat wear that day?
“If I have a chance to play with Tiger, I’m going to wear his cap, the cap that he signed for me, the whole day.”
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