By THE NATION
The Thai star overcame a wobble at the end of his final round by sticking a superb seven-iron approach shot to within three feet of the flag of the par-5 18th hole.
He was four under through 13 holes, but dropped shots on 14, 15 and 17 and bounced back for his last-hole heroics.
“It’s the first time I hit driver off to the left, just taking the fairway on. It left me, like 207 yards. I had a good line downwind and hit the seven-iron to three feet. I really needed it!” said a relieved Kiradech, who finished T8 in Korea’s only PGA Tour competition.
“I’m playing fantastic golf,” he said. “I just got disappointed on the last five or six holes. My putting was looking good all day. I started with the par on one, birdied on two and three and just quiet in the middle, and then birdied 10 and 11 and was on fire again.
“I made a mistake on 12, duffed my second shot and got par, which was quite disappointing. And then three bogeys in four holes, which was killing me. I feel I left a couple of shots out there. I’ve been away from the game for a while, so it’s good to be back playing well again. But obviously top-10 this week will bring a lot of confidence back.”
Kiradech finished 83rd in last season’s FedExCup points list.
The burly Kiradech will now have two weeks off since he did not make the cut for the PGA Tour’s first event in Japan, the Zozo Championship next week, and China’s World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions.
He hopes to use his time off to nurse an ailing right knee, where he has a partially torn ACL.
“I know I might not be playing a lot after this,” he said. “I just want to keep the same feeling, that this is the best I’ve been playing, and hopefully my knee will get fixed and I will come back and start hunting again. I believe I’m not really far off with the way I’m swinging the club, with the way my team is working with me. We are doing great.”
Kiradech totalled 12-under 276, courtesy of four straight 69s for the week and finished eight shots back of American winner Justin Thomas, who claimed his second CJ Cup title in three years.
Thomas, who will move to third place in the latest FedExCup standings with his 11th career win, shot a closing 67 to win by two shots from Danny Lee of New Zealand, while Japanese star Hideki Matsuyama finished tied third after a closing 65 alongside US Open winner Gary Woodland and Australia’s Cameron Smith.
Thailand’s Jazz Janewattananond finished his campaign with a 73 to finish T65. He will play in Japan and China over the next two weeks.