Big-hitting Thai star Kiradech Aphibarnrat will fulfill a childhood dream when he sets foot on Augusta National Golf Club for his Masters debut this week.
Kiradech, the 2013 Asian Tour Order of Merit champion, earned his place in the year's opening Major after finishing in the top 50 of the Official World Golf Ranking at the end of last season which saw him win twice.
Following some good form in the United States recently where he finished tied sixth at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and won two matches at the WGC – Dell Match Play, the burly 26-year-old hopes to make it a week to remember at The Masters.
Tips from fellow Thais Thongchai Jaidee, who is also teeing up at Augusta National this week, and Prayad Marksaeng, who featured twice at The Masters, have given Kiradech some valuable insights as he prepares to challenge an elite field led by defending champion Jordan Spieth and world number one Jason Day.
He recalled the joy of receiving his Masters invitation from Augusta National but knows that the real challenge would be to make an impression over four rounds.
"I check my email very often and I got excited when I received the news. It was the best news I've received in my golf career," said Kiradech.
"Playing in The Masters is the first step, if I can play in all four rounds, then it would be a great start. Thongchai and Prayad have told me a lot about the golf course but it is not the same as actually playing on the course," he added.
The exciting Thai, who attracts fans due to his grip it and rip it style of play, enjoyed a flying 2015 season where he won tournaments in China and Scotland to break into the world's top 50 for the first time in his career.
He also got married to long-time sweetheart Tunyatorn Chaiyarat on Valentine's Day this year in a ceremony that involved a hot air balloon ride in Thailand along with many other newly weds.
With life on and off the golf course rosy, Kiradech subsequently produced his best result of the season with an equal sixth outing at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, thanks largely to a glorious final day 65 which saw him match last year's finish in the same event.
At the Match Play, he defeated Jimmy Walker and Robert Streb before losing to Dustin Johnson in a play-off to qualify for the round of 16 knock-out stage.
"I look forward to playing in Augusta National. When I was a kid, I watched a lot of golf and I saw a lot of great players winning the green jacket. Since then, '’ve been dreaming of playing in the Masters Tournament.
"In 2013, I almost finished inside top-50 and I didn't get an invite. I just focussed on my own game and I told myself that one day I will get into the Masters Tournament. The dream has come true," said Kiradech.
Asian Tour number one Anirban Lahiri will also tee up at the Masters which starts on Thursday.
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