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2023 Thailand Classic Preview, Picks & Analysis

By: | Mon 13 Feb 2023

KIRADECH Aphibarnrat says that he can’t wait to tee it up on home soil once again at this week's Thailand Classic as the DP World Tour returns to the country for the first time since 2016.

Amata Spring Country Club will host the DP World Tour with the venue also the site of last year’s prestigious Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship.

He has endured something of a rollercoaster ride as he attempted to balance life on both sides of the Atlantic. A four-time winner on the DP World Tour, the 33-year-old will be riding a wave of positive momentum at the start of the new season after securing playing privileges at Qualifying School in November.

Two of the home favourite’s victories have been in Asia, his maiden title coming at the Maybank Malaysia Open in 2013, followed by his win at the Shenzhen International two years later.

He said: “I’m really excited to welcome everyone on the DP World Tour to Thailand again. It’s very special having the opportunity to play on home soil on the Tour and it’s something that all the Thai golfers are looking forward to.

“I’ve made no secret of how much I enjoy playing on the DP World Tour, so it will be great to see all the guys playing in my home country again. We spend so much time travelling the world on Tour, it will be a nice change to enjoy some home comforts for a week.”


(Image Credit: Kevin Diss Photography)

Joining him on the outskirts of Bangkok is 2016 Ryder Cup player and four-time DP World Tour winner Rafa Cabrera Bello. The Spaniard has enjoyed a return to form over the past two years, winning the Open de España in 2021.

“I’ve always enjoyed playing in Asia and I’m excited to get back to Thailand,” said the 38-year-old. “It has been quite a few years since we’ve had the chance to play there, so I’m looking forward to going back to Bangkok and having the opportunity to experience the vibrant culture once again.”

Among the tournament favourites will be Robert MacIntyre. The Scot is determined to tie down a place in Europe’s Ryder Cup team and has shown some decent form.

“It’s exciting that we have the chance to return to the Far East to play golf again,” said MacIntyre, who was runner up to Victor Perez at the Challenge Tour’s Foshan Open, held in China, in 2018, and then finished T17 at the WGC-HSBC Champions, also held in China, in 2019. “Obviously it’s been a few years since we’ve been able to play in that part of the world but we’re looking forward to returning.

“I’ve not been to Thailand before, so I’m looking forward to experiencing another country, a new golf course and a new culture. I’ve heard great things about Amata Spring and it’s set to be a great week.”

Guido Migliozzi and Antoine Rozner, who recently won the inaugural Hero Cup as members of Francesco Molinari’s Continental Europe side, will compete alongside Great Britain & Ireland representatives Ewen Ferguson and Jordan Smith at Amata Spring Country Club.

The quartet have ten DP World Tour wins between them, with all four winning in 2022.

Frenchman Rozner secured his third DP World Tour title at the Mauritius Open in December, his victory earning him the final available place on team Continental Europe. Migliozzi, memorably won the Cazoo Open de France as he fired a final round 62 at Le Golf National for his third victory since joining the Tour in 2019.

“I can’t wait to play in Thailand for the first time,” said Rozner. “One of the best things about playing on the DP World Tour is the opportunity we get to visit new countries and experience new cultures and different golf courses. It’s a week we’re all looking forward to and I’ve heard some great things about the course.”

Smith secured a long-awaited second DP World Tour title in October, bridging a five-year gap since his first victory at the Porsche European Open, as he stormed to a 30-under-par total to win the Portugal Masters.

“I’ve won in Asia in the past, albeit on the other side of the continent,” said Smith, who won the Ras Al Khaimah Golf Challenge on the Challenge Tour in 2016. “I’m excited to return to the Far East. A lot of us have played over there on the Challenge Tour in the past. It’s a part of the world which is very knowledgeable about golf and we’re looking forward to seeing the locals come out and support us.”

Form Guide

Robert MacIntyre is desperate to secure his place in Luke Donald’s European Ryder Cup team. He won the Italian Open last September and has made a decent start to 2023, playing well at both the Abu Dhabi Championship and Dubai Desert Classic.

The Course

Amata Spring Country Club, which opened in 2005, is a par 72 measuring 7,505 yards. Look out for the par-three 17th hole which features an island green that is accessed via a short boat ride! The course features many elevation changes.

To Win:

Robert MacIntyre. Desperate to make Ryder Cup team

Each Way:

Kiradech Aphibarnrat. Popular Thai

Each Way:

Guido Migliozzi. Gifted young Italian

Five to Follow:

Robert MacIntyre. On a mission to get back into top 50

Kiradech Aphibarnrat. A natural talent

Guido Migliozzi. Finally finding some consistency

Dan Bradbury. Worth keeping an eye on

Jordan Smith. Hoping he doesn’t have to wait long for third win

Five Outsiders to Watch:

Tom McKibbin. Only a matter of time before he wins

Ratchanon Chantananuwat. Gifted Thai amateur

Nathan Kimsey. Yet to miss a cut this season

Daniel Van Tonder. Knows how to win.

Matthew Baldwin. Has shown decent recent form

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Tags: european tour dp world tour

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