TOP senior in HOT form

17 Oct

“Godfather of Asian Golf” blitzes Benahavis field

HE MIGHT NOT be a household name among golfing fans outside his home base but Thailand’s Boonchu Ruangkit has been shredding the record books in his rookie year on the European Senior Tour.

Known as the “Godfather of Asian Golf”, he almost made history in 2009 by becoming the oldest winner in the history of the Asian Tour but lost a play-off for the Brunei Open title to Australian Darren Beck. Then, in March this year he began competing full-time on the European Senior Tour and reeled off three consecutive wins (in Brunei, Thailand and South Africa).

This made him the quickest player to achieve three victories, his seven tournament appearances being one fewer than Brian Huggett’s previous record. In  addition, his 21-under winning total of 195 in the Chang Thailand Senior Masters was the lowest 54-hole score to par in the history of the Tour; and his 11-stroke victory over his nearest challenger was also the highest recorded for a 54-hole event since the Tour was launched in 1992.

On this occasion, the 54-year-old carded 10 birdies on the way to a closing seven-under 64 and a 16-under total to win the second Benahavis Senior Masters at La Quinta Golf & Country Club by seven shots – strengthening his position at the top of the order of merit with just two events remaining. His nearest rivals in the 54-hole tournament (with a field of 79) were defending champion Carl Mason (who also won four times in his rookie season in 2003) and another Englishman, John Gould, both on nine-under 204.

The leading Spaniard was Juan Quirós, fourth on 206; while José Rivero was 17th, José María Cañizares 50th, La Quinta course designer Manuel Piñero 58th, Antonio Garrido 71st, and Sergio García father, Victor, 69th.

The top Australian (joint fifth with a total of 207) was Peter Fowler, who in 1989 won the World Cup for Australia, paired with Wayne Grady, just down in the valley at a rain-drenched Las Brisas. The only other two Australians in the field were David Merriman (12th) and Graham Banister (27th).

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