Thai golfer Aphibarnrat living as a monk to prep for US Open

Asian Tour No 1 Kiradech Aphibarnrat has taken a unique approach to preparing for June's US Open by living as a monk for a week in his native Thailand.
Kiradech Aphibarnrat shown after winning the Malaysian Open in March 2013. Lai Seng Sin / AP / March 24, 2013
Kiradech Aphibarnrat shown after winning the Malaysian Open in March 2013. Lai Seng Sin / AP / March 24, 2013

Former NBA coach – and current New York Knicks executive – Phil Jackson was renowned for his philosophical approach to his profession.

Jackson even became known as the ‘Zen Masters’ through his promotion of insights found in his explorations of the subject. A kind of profound mental and spiritual balance was probably necessary to get the likes of Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant to listen to you.

It’s not a particularly new phenomoen in sports – lots and lots of athletes and coaches have turned to holistic means – meditation, yoga, philosophy, etc. – to aid them in their efforts of, ultimately, winning sporting events. Heck, it dates all the way back to Ancient Greece and the Hellenistic emphasis on leadership and the atletic ideal.

But what Asian Tour golfer Kiradech Aphibarnrat is doing in anticipation of the US Open in June is ... probably taking it a bit to the extreme.

Aphibarnrat, of Thailand, is living as a monk.

As Agence France-Presse details below, the 24-year-old spent seven days at a temple about 80 km outside Bangkok last week. To be fair, extreme focus and calmness can go a long way in golf – so maybe he’s on to something.

“The 24-year-old Kiradech spent seven days at the temple where he shaved his head and eyebrows, woke up at 4.30am, meditated, walked bare-footed for several kilometres to gather food, cleaned the temple grounds and ate just one meal a day.”

Or maybe he just got a kick out of living like a monk for a week. Either way, he only has three professional wins, none of which came on the PGA Tour, so it’s not like it can hurt.

Here’s the full story, via AFP:

Asian Tour No 1 Kiradech Aphibarnrat has taken an unusual path as he bids to qualify for the US Open next month -- he’s been living as a monk.

The world No 83 from Thailand needs to break into the top 60 by June 9 to play in the year’s second major and he swapped his golfing attire for a robe at the Buddhist Wat Veerachoti Thamaram temple, 80 kilometres (50 miles) from Bangkok last week.

The 24-year-old Kiradech spent seven days at the temple where he shaved his head and eyebrows, woke up at 4.30am, meditated, walked bare-footed for several kilometres to gather food, cleaned the temple grounds and ate just one meal a day.

“In Thai culture, you have to do this once in your lifetime when you’re aged between 21 to 25. It is a mark of respect to our parents,” Kiradech said in a statement released by the Asian Tour.

“This was a good experience for me,” added the reigning Asian Tour order of merit champion.

“I feel like I’ve grown older in the past week and in some strange way, I feel I am able to think and do things better.”

Kiradech added that experiencing the frugal lifestyle may help him with his golfing ambitions. After a breakthrough year in 2013, he has recorded only one top-five finish this year.

“From the beginning of the year until now, I felt like I haven’t been mentally strong and focused.

“I want to learn to be more patient with myself and enjoy my golf and hopefully my time in the temple will help me appreciate what I do for a living,” said Kiradech.

Kiradech will play in European Tour’s PGA Championship at Wentworth in England which begins on Thursday. He will then take up an invitation from Jack Nicklaus to compete in the prestigious Memorial tournament in the United States.

“I’ve got two big events coming up and I want to play well to get myself into the US Open,” added Kiradech.

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Published: May 19, 2014 04:00 AM

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