Thailand’s Boonchu Ruangkit continued the trend of first-time winners on the 2010 European Senior Tour Schedule with his maiden victory at The Aberdeen Brunei Senior Masters presented by The Stapleford Forum.
Following Englishman Kevin Spurgeon’s maiden victory at the season-opening Mauritius Commercial Bank Open, Ruangkit entered the winner’s enclosure on a day of high drama at The Empire Hotel and Country Club in Brunei.
After the Thai ace and joint overnight leader Frankie Minoza of the Philippines – also seeking his maiden Senior Tour debut – had both signed for rounds of 66 to finish level on 14 under par, Ruangkit must have feared history was about to repeat itself.
At the same venue twelve months previously, Ruangkit had lost out in a play-off at the Brunei Open on the Asian Tour. But on this occasion, the 53 year old held his nerve to see off Minoza at the second extra hole and collect the €44,332 first prize.
He said: “I’m very happy to win my first Senior Tour title – it has given me great confidence. Even though I lost the Brunei Open here last year I still really like this course, because it’s been good to me. I really like Brunei, because I play well every time I come here. Maybe it’s because of the hot weather, which I’m used to!
“I was very nervous for the play-off, and it didn’t help that the wind started to blow a little. But I managed to control my nerves, and I’m just so happy to have won – although I feel a little sorry for Frankie, because he played very well today. I didn’t think I could beat him, to be honest. On most of the par fives he was only using a four or five iron for his second shot, whilst I was using a three wood. But I got the job done, and it feels great.”
Despite his initial reservations, Ruangkit got off to a flying start with a birdie at the first and an eagle three at the next hole, where Minoza also picked up his first shot of the day. The duo continued to trade birdies until the 14th hole, where a bogey from Minoza handed Ruangkit the initiative.
The former kick boxer, who turned to golf after being knocked out in his third bout, then appeared to land a telling blow on the 17th hole, where a birdie three handed him a two-shot advantage going down the last.
But a costly bogey combined with a birdie for Minoza led to the first play-off of the 2010 Senior Tour season, which Ruangkit won with a par at the second extra hole after both men had parred the first.
A round of 68 saw South African Chris Williams finish in a tie for third place on 11 under par, with Roger Chapman a further two shots back on nine under after the Englishman compiled a round of 66. The lowest round of the day was provided by Scotland’s Sam Torrance, who shot a 65 to finish alongside American Jerry Bruner in a tie for fifth place on seven under par.