Argentina’s Ricardo Gonzalez climbed into the top 15 of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship thanks to a best-of-the-day nine under par 63 on St Andrews’ Old Course.
The 42 year old’s flawless card featured seven birdies, one eagle and would – up until this week – have tied for the course record at the Home of Golf were it not for the first day heroics of Frenchman Victor Dubuisson, who fired a ten under par 62 on Thursday to overhaul the previous record held jointly by Luke Donald, Simon Dyson and Rory McIlroy.
After shooting a one under par 71 on the challenge Championship Links at Carnoustie on Thursday, followed by a level par 72 at a windy Kingsbarns in the second round, the four-time European Tour Champion found the sizzling form that saw him claim his national PGA Championship in Buenos Aires last week.
Gonzalez captured the respected title by four shots at San Isidro Golf Club in a field that featured several other European Tour Champions including Jose Coceres, Andres Romero and Eduardo Romero and the Rosario man was quick to pay testament to the boost the win had provided heading into this week.
“I'm feeling very good because of the win in Argentina, in the 75th year of the PGA Argentina, and I made good scores there so I came here with a lot of confidence and that’s why I made 63 today,” said Gonzalez, who first secured his European Tour card for the 199 season.
“It was an unbelievable feeling, seeing all those famous names on the trophy: Roberto De Vincenzo, Fidel de Luca, Florentino Molina, Vicente Fernandez, Eduardo Romero, Andres Romero, and now I'm the last. I'm very happy to be on the trophy.”
The win in Argentina had particularly poignancy for Gonzalez following the death of his mother just three weeks previously, and Gonzalez dedicated the special victory to her last week in Argentina.
Playing the back nine of the Old Course first on Saturday, Gonzalez found four birdies and an eagle at the long 14th to turn in 30 blows before gaining a further three strokes across the front nine, and he said the performance – that saw him surge over 90 places up the leaderboard into a share of 13th place heading into the final round – exceeded even his own expectations.
“Coming here today I told myself that I needed to shoot five or six under par to make the cut and I make nine under; it's amazing!” he continued.
“I feel very lucky to be one of the few players to make a score like that at St Andrews, the Home of Golf, I think any professional when they have made that score on that course it makes them very, very happy.”
A big man, and a big hitter, Gonzalez is one of the most popular players on Tour, and when asked what his aims were for the final 18 holes to again be played across the Old Course at St Andrews on Sunday, he demonstrated more of the humility and good humour that has made him such a likeable character.
“My aims are the same as today,” he said, “to make all the putts.”