The leader board shows that Kiradech Aphibarnrat lost to Justin Rose by 12 strokes at the Indonesian Masters on Sunday. And yet, the 28-year-old from Thailand looks to have wound up the big winner anyway at Royale Jakarta Golf Club thanks to some 72nd-hole heroics that seemingly have locked up his spot in a different Masters, the major championship played at Augusta National next April.
Aphibarnrat started the week ranked 56th on the Official World Ranking. All players ranked in the top 50 at the end of 2017 get invitations into next year’s Masters. Projections showed that a solo fifth-place finish in the Asian Tour event would be enough to jump Aphibarnrat inside the top 50 at year’s end.
As it turned out, Aphibarnrat stepped to the 18th tee on Sunday needing an eagle on the par 5 to sneak into solo fifth. And sure enough he got it, posting a three-under 69 for a 17-under 281 total.
Aphibarnrat wasn’t the only one to finish high enough to book a flight to Augusta. Japan’s Yusaki Miyazato, No. 58 on the ranking prior to the tournament, came in solo fourth at Royale Jakarta (also with a closing 69) and is projected to be No. 50 in the final ranking of the year.
Technically, neither Aphibarnrat and Miyazato moved into the top 50 for this Monday’s ranking, but rather 51st and 52nd, respectively. However, the two players ahead of them—Satoshi Kodaira and Peter Uihlein—will wind up losing points in the next two weeks as past finishes count less, allowing Aphibarnrat and Miyazato to pass them. (There is one remaining tournament to be played in 2017 that has World Rankings points, but it's on the Asian Developmental Tour.)
Aphibarnrat’s accomplishment is even more amazing considering that in September he was ranked 160th. Since then, he has played 13 events and posted seven top-10 finishes and 10 top-20s while missing just one cut, a rally that allowed him to qualify for his second Masters.