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Living a humble life. No, it's not Monty . . .

THE week went something like this.

The 'Asian John Daly', Kiradech Aphibarnrat,  sought to learn patience at a Buddhist temple earlier this year. Picture: Getty Sport
The 'Asian John Daly', Kiradech Aphibarnrat, sought to learn patience at a Buddhist temple earlier this year. Picture: Getty Sport

Get up at 4.30am, shave your head and eyebrows, meditate and walk bare-footed for several kilometres to gather food. It sounds just like the normal daily procedure for the golf writers here at the Open Championship, to be honest.

For Kiradech Aphibarnrat, the Asian Tour's No.1, this was his rite of passage. Earlier this season, the burly 24-year-old from Thailand ditched the slacks and polo shirts of his golfing wardrobe for the more humble attire of the Buddhist monk.

A week spent at the Wat Veerachoti Thamaram Temple, some 80 kilometres from Bangkok, is a far cry for the hullabaloo of a major championship venue.

"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," said Aphibarnrat, who will make his second Open appearance this week at Hoylake.

"From the beginning of the year until now, I felt I hadn't been mentally strong and focused. I wanted to learn to be more patient with myself and enjoy my golf and the time in the temple helped me appreciate what I do for a living.

"In the temple grounds, I did a lot of meditation and prayer every day. We also walked without shoes with the other monks for several kilometres daily to collect food which was another experience. I had to work and clean the temple grounds every day."

Imagine good old Monty doing that?

Aphibarnrat is known as the Asian John Daly, because of his hefty physique and gung-ho big-hitting style. It will be safe to assume that he doesn't indulge in some of Daly's other, more effervescent vices. Originally he was known as Anujit Hirunratanakorn, which looks more like a Countdown conundrum, but changed his name to the marginally less tongue-twisting Kiradech Aphibarnrat.

With two victories on his native Asian circuit, Aphibarnrat made a real name for himself on the European Tour when he won the co-sanctioned Malaysian Open last year and ended up finishing in the top 30 of the Race to Dubai rankings.

His visits to these shores in that time have not been too profitable, though. Aphibarnrat made his debut in the Open at Muirfield last summer and missed the cut with a eye-watering 85 in the second round.

He departed early from May's BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth and joined the halfway casualty list at Royal Aberdeen last week in the Scottish Open.

Indeed, since his stellar 2013 campaign, in which he had that win and eight other strong finishes, the 2014 campaign has been one of toil and trouble. Apart from a share of third in the CIMB Classic on the PGA Tour, Aphibarnrat has not posted another top-10 finish. As ever in times of crisis, Aphibarnrat has turned to the one person who knows best: his maw.

"I've got my mum here," reported the former world junior champion. "When I was a junior golfer, I've always travelled around the world with her and we are very close. My parents know I've lost some confidence but we're sticking together and they are trying to push me up.

"From the start of this year, I'm playing bad golf and I have told them that my swing and feel have changed but mum has reminded me that I'm still the same guy, still the same golfer. She believes I can do it, even win this week.

"With her in the rented home here, we have Thai food every night and I feel comfortable, it feels just like home. Unfortunately, my dad is not here as he doesn't like to travel too far."

Last year's torrid introduction to Open Championship golf was a sore one but the Thai youngster, who gave up his passion for racing cars as he discovered it was "too dangerous", believes he has learned from that turbulent experience.

"The Open was my first major last year and I made a lot of mistakes; it was a good experience and I believe I will not be so nervous as before," said the world No.106.

"The main thing this week is the wind and bunkers but I do feel comfortable out here. I'm hitting it sharper than previously and I've got my confidence back. I just have to find one good week and hopefully everything will come back.

"I think the second half of the year should be a better one. The way I'm striking the ball in the last couple of weeks, I'm happy."

And if it does go pear shape again at Hoylake, Aphibarnrat can always seek solace at the Kailash Buddhist Centre here on the Wirral.

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