TOKYO (Reuters) - Reigning Asian Tour Order of Merit winner Kiradech Aphibarnrat will risk his injured knee at this week’s Asia-Pacific Open in Japan after getting bored of sitting on the sidelines for seven weeks.
The Thai has not played since quitting his second round at the U.S. PGA Championship last month after eight holes because of the problem but opted against surgery.
Kiradech, who also suffers from a long-term thyroid problem, first underwent knee surgery at the age of 10 and decided that a period of rest and physiotherapy would be best to quell the long term pain.
“My knee’s getting better. I can say it’s about 80 percent better now,” he said from Ibaraki Prefecture, north of Tokyo, on Wednesday.
“I just want to get back into shape, play all four rounds without aggravating my injury.”
The Thai, whose family changed his name from Anujit Hirunratanakorn to improve his luck, said he had been following the action on Tour and found it tough staying away from the course.
“I was getting bored at home and I just want to be out here again. I miss being in competition and being around my friends,” he said.
“I watched the European Masters on TV and I thought to myself that I should be there as well.
“It’s one of the most beautiful golf courses on the Asian Tour. It was great to see David Lipsky win and I really hope to be back in the winner’s circle again.”
American Lipsky is in pole position to take this year’s Order of Merit title after winning the lucrative co-sanctioned event in Switzerland.
However, the 25-year-old Kiradech, who changed equipment for this season following his Order of Merit win, still has time to chase down Lipsky with a number of big money co-sanctioned events in the next two months starting with Thursday’s 150,000,000 Yen ($1.38 million) tournament.
The Bangkok resident was sure it wouldn’t take him long to start challenging for titles.
“I’m confident I’ll be back to my very best soon.”
($1 = 108.5300 Japanese yen)
Writing by Patrick Johnston in Singapore; editing by Sudipto Ganguly