CIMB Classic: Monday Playoff and Kiradech Aphibarnrat

After two rain delays totaling three hours, darkness descended on the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club forcing Gary Woodland and Ryan Moore to come back on Monday. Even then, they had to finish in a steady rain, but they did get finished at 14-under.

So Monday now turns into a no-holds-barred birdie hunt; the two of them are just too dangerous to hope that pars will be good enough. Moore talked about Woodland’s fine play:

Well, obviously he’s playing great, and we both are to this point.  We both played some great golf this week.  He did a lot of good things today, made putts when he needed to, and had some great up‑and‑downs all day long from the fairways, and like I said, just kind of did what he had to do to be right here, right now.

Obviously we both know tomorrow good golf is going to win.  You’ve got to go out and you’ve got to do something to win, and I think that’s a great thing. 

And Woodland returned the compliments:

Yeah, exactly.  Obviously we’re both playing really well, and obviously Ryan played — he hit the ball beautifully today, hit some great putts, and obviously an unbelievable up‑and‑down on the last hole.  It’ll be a good day.  Obviously we’re going to come out and you’re going to try to have to make birdies because Ryan is going to do that, and I’m going to try to do the same.

So they will begin trying to resolve that at 7:30 am local time. Until then, they have to get some sleep and then get up very early to prepare for the playoff. Moore had the perfect plan and Woodland agreed:

I know I’m fairly exhausted at this point, so sleeping should not be difficult.  I’m going to get back to the hotel, get something to eat real fast, and I’ll probably be out as soon as I hit the bed.

[Woodland added] Yeah, this is about as late as I’ve been up all week, so sleeping will be the least of the issues.

In the meantime, there’s a great story in Thailand’s, Kiradech Aphibarnrat. He won the 2013 Malaysian Open on the very same Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club course earlier this year, putting him at the top of the Order of Merit winner on the Asian Tour.

He finished one stroke back of the leaders at 13-under and T3 with the subject of yesterday’s post, Chris Stroud.

And because he finished in the top 10 of an official PGA Tour event, he’s granted an exemption into the next PGA Tour event, in this case, the McGladrey Classic  in Sea Island, Georgia. It’s worth quoting extensively from his transcript because it wasn’t an outcome he considered and as he was being questioned about its possibilities and implications, you could see his future flashing before his eyes.

Q.  You were just informed by the scorer there that you can get to play in the McGladrey Classic which is the week after [next week’s] HSBC.  Are you going to make take that exemption?

I will let this thing feel — my manager decide.  Should be tough work for her.  I’ll try, if I can.

Q.  Just talk about the final day, played great, right in the hunt.

I was playing [good] golf on the front nine, didn’t have any pressure, played my own game.  The result was great, 3‑under, and after I saw my name on the top of the leaderboard, I think I pushed too much pressure on me for the back nine, tried to make a score…

Okay, I learned a lot, that when I try too much, just force myself too much, I tell myself don’t mind the results, but when you have the opportunity to win this PGA Tour event, it changes your life, changes your future.  You get two more years in PGA Tour, anywhere you want to play.  That’s why I tried to make a move on the back.

Q.  Does this week tell you now that, hey, I’m good enough to play against the best players in the world, play on the PGA Tour?

I cannot say I’m good enough.  I mean, I have to improve my game a lot if I want to play in PGA Tour, play with the star players, world‑class players.  If I want to play with them, every part of my game has to be strong.

I can tell right now I’m hitting the ball really well, just my putting and my short game isn’t good enough to win the PGA Tour events.  But the way I’m doing, the way I start to do right now is on the right way.

I just try to improve and try to play with all the top players.

Q.  This will almost help you win Asian Tour Order of Merit already.  What do you need to do for the Asian Tour season?

Just try to come back and play more in Asia.  I mean, I really success and quite happy with the result before I play in this event, I just try to be on top of Asia players.  That will guarantee 90 percent to win the Order of Merit.

Q.  There’s an opportunity for you to play on the PGA TOUR in two weeks’ time, and also to pick up temporary membership, which will allow you to take sponsor’s invitation.  Is that something which you will talk about with your manager?

Yes, I do.  I think the schedule will change right now.  If I have my chance even like just 1 percent, I will try and do it, but anyway, on other tours right now, I have to play like in Dubai and Europe, and after that I will focus on my World Ranking.  If I can make the PGA Tour Money List, I’ll try.

It will be very interesting to see if he’s in the McGladrey field; he has to commit by this Friday. And just as interesting to watch how his assimilation goes.

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