The 30-year-old Thai produced five birdies against a lone bogey at a sun-kissed Liberty National Golf Club to end the first round five back of leader Troy Merritt, who opened with a blistering nine-birdie 62.
Entering the Playoffs in 76th place on the FedExCup points list, Kiradech needs a projected 27th place finish at the tournament to progress into next week’s BMW Championship in Chicago, which is restricted to the top-70 players. The best 30 golfers will then advance into the Playoffs Finale, the Tour Championship in Atlanta where the FedExCup champion will pocket a handsome US$15 million.
“I hit the ball solid and rolled the putts better, although some putts didn’t drop,” said Kiradech, who needed 27 strokes with his flatstick in the round.
“You have to keep the ball on the fairway and keep it in position. I think I played better than the score today but overall, it’s a good start.”
While he could have benefited from a hot putter, Kiradech is more concerned for his injured right knee as he walked with a slight limp off the course and immediately required treatment with Tour physios.
“It’s a bit swollen now, so hopefully the treatment will help,” he said.
Kiradech is hoping to make a late push into the top-8 of the International Team standings for the Presidents Cup. He is currently 20th on the points list and trails eighth-ranked CT Pan by 37.69 points, which is derived from the Official World Golf Ranking.
The big-hitting Thai is enjoying his first trip to Jersey City, which neighbours New York. “The course is in great condition, it’s my first time here and it’s in fantastic shape,” he said.
“I just need to keep the ball in play this week as it’s a very challenging course with a mix of short and long holes.”