GULLANE, United Kingdom (AFP) – Thai rising star Kiradech Aphibarnrat battled to a one-over-par 72 after struggling with poor iron-play in the opening round of the British Open on Thursday.
The current Asian Tour Order of Merit leader, who is playing in his first ever major tournament, bogeyed the second hole but swiftly recovered with birdies on four and five at the challenging Muirfield course.
He moved up the leader board with a key 15-foot birdie putt on 10 but slipped back with 'silly mistakes' on 11, 15 and 16, which resulted in bogeys.
"I was in good form but I had a couple of mistakes. You cannot miss your shots on this course. If that happens, then you need to make up-and-downs for par. This result is still good for me," said Kiradech.
"I made a couple of easy mistakes so that was a bit disappointing. I just wasn't hitting my irons good enough but my driver and putting raised my game," added the Thai, who qualified for The Open after winning the Asia International Final Qualifying tournament on home soil in February.
The two-time Asian Tour winner conceded that he should have made full use of the relatively calm and breezy conditions in the morning.
"The conditions were quite easy because there weren't much wind. I'm lucky to play early in the morning. That's why I'm quite disappointed I didn't take advantage of the weather," lamented Kiradech.
He remains upbeat that he can still make the weekend rounds if he stays focussed.
"Yes, I have a good chance to play on the weekend. I have to focus on my game plan because you need to really concentrate when you are playing on this golf course. You cannot lose focus because when you do, then the course will punish you," he said.