Thailand’s burly and hugely talented Kiradech Aphibarnrat beat James Nitties of Australia 2&1 to win the ISPS HANDA World Super 6 Perth on Sunday.
The 28-year-old golfer recovered brilliantly from being 1-down after two holes to win three consecutive holes and beat his opponent in the grand finals of the A$1.75 million (approximately US$1.25 million) event.
Kiradech progressed to Sunday after winning a tense, four-hole playoff over Australia’s Anthony Quayle at the end of round three.
After besting Ben Eccles of Australia 1-up in the first round, Kiradech beat 2017 Japan Golf Tour number one Yusaku Miyazato in a close match that stretched to the fifth Knockout Hole.
He went on to defeat Sean Crocker of the United States 1-up in the quarter finals and Lucas Herbert of Australia in the semi-finals at the first Knockout Hole.
Nitties beat fellow Australians Nick Cullen, Dimitrios Papadatos and Callan O’Reilly as well as England’s Sam Horsfield at Lake Karrinyup Country Club before meeting Kiradech in the finals.
In the match for third place, Herbert beat Horsfield 3&1.
Asian Tour players Pavit Tangkamolprasert, Poom Saksansin, Prom Meesawat and Yi-keun Chang also played in the knockout matchplay rounds of the ISPS HANDA World Super 6 Perth.
Kiradech Aphibarnrat did not get a chance to practice at the Lake Karrinyup Country Club as he flew into Perth the evening prior to the tournament. He was the last player to enter the competition, the last player to enter the matchplay knockout rounds and the last man standing.
Kiradech has won a match-play event in his professional career previously, at the 2015 Paul Lawrie match-play.
He will be competing at the Brunei Championships, an event on the Asian Development Tour, from March 7 to 10.
James Nitties’ most recent professional win was the South Pacific Open Championship in 2015. He beat the field by six shots.
Nitties played the Knockout Hole only once en route to the finals, in round one against Nick Cullen. He finished tied-68th in last year’s ISPS HANDA World Super 6 Perth after carding 70 73.
Prom Meesawat earned A$25,000 by virtue of finishing in first place after 54 holes. Sean Crocker of the United States, Lucas Herbert of Australia and Thorbjorn Olesen of Denmark split another A$25,000 for their tied-second finish.
The Knockout Hole was played from a new tee box located approximately 80 to 90 metres from the 18th green on the right-hand side of the 18th fairway.
Kiradech said, “It has been an awesome week. In the last few months, I've been getting really close at winning a tournament and I’ve finally I've done it. Every single shot counts especially in matchplay. Every single match was tough. James (Nitties) was playing so well, and he was just unlucky at the end. The drive at the fourth matchplay hole was one of the best tee shots in my life so far.”
“I’ve played the 18th hole so many times, I can recognise almost every single feature there. And, to play with a young and talented player like Lucas (Herbert) was an honour. He hits the ball miles and his confidence is massive. I did not look beyond James, of course, but I felt that I have one hand on the trophy after beating Lucas. The young golfer is definitely one of the strongest in the field and one to watch.”
“There were many times when I felt that I would be eliminated from the tournament. Winning any event is never easy. I pushed myself and I’m glad that things turned out the way it did.”