Thailand’s Boonchu Ruangkit will hope to continue his fine Far East form as the European Senior Tour visits Taiwan for the first time this week with the inaugural Fubon Senior Open.
Despite an injury-affected 2011 campaign, Ruangkit has so far made a strong defence of the John Jacobs Trophy he won as the leading Senior Tour player last year and heads into the penultimate event of the season in seventh place on the Order of Merit.
The 55 year old won his fifth Senior Tour title on his last appearance at the Travis Perkins plc Senior Masters at the start of September, before a back injury caused him to miss the last four events.
As the Senior Tour returns to the Far East, Ruangkit will be looking to extend his fine run of form on Asian soil, having burst onto the scene last year with back-to-back victories in Brunei and Thailand.
He also recorded top ten finishes at the start of this season at the Handa Cup Senior Masters in Japan and the ISPS Handa Senior World Championship presented by Mission Hills China and will head to Miramar Golf & Country Club as one of the favourites for the title.
Ruangkit will be joined in the field for the Fubon Senior Open by former Open and Masters Champion Sandy Lyle, who will be looking to end the 2011 season as strongly as he began it in the Far East.
The Scot was tied fifth in Japan before capturing his maiden Senior Tour title, and first tournament victory in 19 years, at the ISPS Handa Senior World Championship presented by Mission Hills China.
Massy Kuramoto, winner of the Handa Cup Senior Masters in Japan last November, is another player with a proven pedigree on Asian soil, while Englishman Roger Chapman will continue his pursuit of a maiden Senior Tour title having posted three top ten finishes in his last four appearances, including a share of second place behind Ruangkit at the Travis Perkins plc Senior Masters.
Chapman’s compatriot Gary Wolstenholme will look to further strengthen his bid for the Rookie of the Year award and is arguably the form player in the field. The former Walker Cup player, who won the 2010 Casa Serena Open, is currently fifth on the Senior Tour Order of Merit and heads to Taiwan on the back of five consecutive top ten finishes, including tied third in the Belas Clube de Campo Senior Open de Portugal followed by a share of runner up in his last outing in the Benahavis Senior Masters in Spain.
Making up the 96 player field will be a total of 54 Senior Tour Members and 42 from the Senior PGA of Taiwan, which is co-sanctioning the event.
The tournament’s prize money of US$400,000 is the highest in the history of senior golf in Taiwan and will give players lower down the Senior Tour Order of Merit the chance to earn their spot in the limited 54-player field for the 2011 season-finale, the MCB Tour Championship in Mauritius.