Golfer fired up by memory of king

Thai golfer Kiradech Aphibarnrat fought back tears after playing through pain and emotion on the day of the Thai king's funeral to card one of his greatest rounds at the WGC-HSBC Champions yesterday.

The 28-year-old was among the first-round pacesetters at the US$9.75 million (S$13.3m) event, going on a magical run of seven birdies on the spin for a seven-under 65 which placed him joint-second alongside Gavin Green and one stroke behind leader Brooks Koepka.

The three-time winner on the European Tour pulled off the feat just as thousands of black-clad mourners massed across Bangkok's historic heart to bid farewell to the beloved Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who died last October.

Kiradech was also dressed all in black and, fighting back tears, said after his superb opening round in Shanghai: "It's not a good day, we are remembering our king who passed away nearly one year ago.

"It's very upsetting in our country.

"Our king will be forever in our hearts, but the show must go on and I need to keep doing my job and hopefully I will take the trophy home for our king."

Yesterday's lavish funeral in Bangkok gave the public a chance to say a final goodbye to a king who was crowned in 1950 and towered over decades of Thai history, before his death aged 88. -AFP