HONG KONG (AFP) - Asian Tour No. 1 Kiradech Aphibarnrat has taken an unusual path as he bids to qualify for the US Open next month - he has 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 swopped his golfing attire for a robe at the Buddhist Wat Veerachoti Thamaram temple, 80km from Bangkok last week.
The 24-year-old 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," he said.
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," he added.