Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand. File Pic – Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images
Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat fired a sixth and final round of 7-under 64 to safely retain his DP World Tour card for next season following the conclusion of the grueling Qualifying School Final Stage at Infinitum Golf Club in Tarragona, Spain on Wednesday.
The 34-year-old Asian star, who was ranked in the world’s Top 50 previously and held a PGA TOUR card for four seasons, finished tied 14th to be amongst the top 25 and ties to safely secure their jobs for 2024.
“Feeling great, to shoot seven under in the final round and to earn my DP World Tour card again,” said a delighted Kiradech. “I have to give myself a big round of applause because I put myself in a good start, stayed patient and didn’t get nervous as I tried to control myself and make sure I hit the ball at the right spot. The thing I did today was one of the best rounds of the season.”
This is the second year in a row the big-hitting Thai, who is a four-time DP World Tour winner, needed to go back to Qualifying School to secure his playing privileges after he lost his PGA TOUR card in 2022. Now that his job is secure for another season, he is confident he can get back to his glory days and challenge for a fifth DP World Tour title in the coming season.
Freddy Schott eagled the final hole to secure a two stroke victory at the Final Stage of DP World Tour Qualifying School to become one of 33 players to earn their DP World Tour cards at INFINITUM.
India’s Manu Gandas and Yuvraj Sandhu missed the cut which was applied aftter four round. Gandas played the DPWT in 2023 after topping Tata Steel PGTI Order of Merit but failed to keep his card. Sandhu go to the final stage of the Q-School after finishing second on the Tata Steel PGTI Order of Merit in 2023.
The German posted a six under par round of 65 to finish on 27 under par for the week, two shots ahead of Italian Filippo Celli.
The 22-year-old, who finished 144th in the season-long Race to Dubai in partnership with Rolex Rankings, was delighted to come out on top at the marathon six round Final Stage event and admits regaining top tier privileges means everything to him.
“I’m unbelievably happy,” he said. “I knew it was going to come down to the final few holes. I had a chip-in on 14, made a good birdie on 16 and then the eagle putt dropping on 18 just made it a really good week.
“I wasn’t really thinking about winning it but then after three or four days, I thought I might as well go for it and so I did.
“I couldn’t have imagined that after last year I wouldn’t be back on the DP World Tour. I’ve made some great friendships there this year and it’s just amazing to play on the DP World Tour. That was my only goal this week.”
Belgian Matthis Besard fired a closing six under par round of 65 to finish in third place on 23 under par alongside overnight leader Sebastian Friedrichsen from Denmark and Dutchman Darius van Driel.
Two-time DP World Tour winner, Tom Lewis, will also return to Golf’s Global Tour after turning his week around with a ten under par 61 on day four. Rounds of 67-65 followed for the Englishman, and he was delighted to come through a nervy week in Tarragona.
“I don’t think my game is far off, just need one good week. I really pushed myself back on Tour again two times in a row. I know there’s something good ahead and I’m still looking for my fifth title,” said Kiradech, whose last win was achieved in 2018.
With his mother on the golf course to cheer him on, Kiradech said he also enjoyed playing alongside Sebastian Garcia of Spain, who fired a spectacular 62 to also secure his card. The Thai started the final round one stroke outside the Top 25 bracket but his stellar finish saw him end the week on 18-under 410, nine shots back of medalist, Freddy Schott of Germany.
“It’s like an extra charger when you have her (mother) around and I want to make everyone happy. After the round, she has enough smiles and we’re going to have a big Thai dinner celebration later,” he laughed.
“To be honest, I did not think about what score I was supposed to shoot because I know everyone was going to get the nerves and excitement. I just tried working my golf swing on the range, make sure I hit the right spots. It’s great to play with Sebastian as well …. nice guy and I feel more relaxed. He put in a great round and started five under after six or seven holes, and he really pushed me and inspired me. I was really feel comfortable today.
“When your back is against the wall, that means you don’t have any room to step back. So I have to go forward. I’m tired now but it’s tired in a good way. It’s not about the body energy, it’s about your brain have to keep thinking. It’s quite a challenging week with difficult and long days. I think I managed myself quite well. It’s a fantastic week.”
The players who qualified for the DPWT 2024 season.
Final Stage Qualifiers
Freddy Schott (GER)
Filippo Celli (ITA)
Darius van Driel
Kristian Krogh Johannessen
Jannik de Bruyn
Søren Broholt Lind
Nicolai von Dellingshausen