Boonchu Ruangkit continued his superb form to lead the Chang Thailand Senior Masters presented by ISPS after the first round, just five days after winning the Aberdeen Brunei Senior Masters presented by The Stapleford Forum.
Ruangkit triumphed in a play-off against Frankie Minoza last weekend to claim the second title of the 2010 European Senior Tour season, and he was in front again at the Royal Gems Golf & Sports Club in Nakhonpathom as an eight under par 64 gave him a one shot lead over fellow Thai Manus Saengsui.
Katsuyoshi Tomori of Japan was one shot further back on six under alongside another player hoping to win on home soil, Jamnian Chitprasong. Englishmen Philip Harrison and David J Russell were the highest placed Europeans on the first round leaderboard after rounds of 67 left them tied with Argentina’s Adan Sowa and another Thai, Nopajak Meesom.
Ruangkit said: “I struggled to settle on the front nine but on the back nine I really started to get into my stride and it was there that I made my score. Now I feel extremely confident, but it is the third week in a row I’ve played in a tournament and it is starting to take its toll. I’m beginning to feel a little bit tired so whether I can keep it going remains to be seen.”
Asked about how he would feel to win on home soil, the 53 year old said: “I’d be thrilled, but more importantly it would inspire the young people in Thailand to pick up their clubs and start playing if they see me win here.”
The conditions at Royal Gems are similar to those in Brunei last week and Harrison admitted it was a disadvantage for Europeans not accustomed to the energy-sapping heat and humidity.
“I came off the back of Brunei last week struggling slightly with the heat,” he said. “I didn’t expect to play this well today and to be honest I was looking for a mid-table place. This result today is fantastic and I’m very satisfied with my performance.
“It is difficult out here for us Europeans. The heat clearly favours the home players and the grass is very different from European grass. There is a grain even on the fairways and you really have to study it to make sure you know what is going to happen. If you mis-hit the ball, the turf underneath can just disintegrate and make life very difficult.”
Scotland’s Sam Torrance, the 2009 Senior Tour Order of Merit champion, was some way off the pace with a one over par 73, while Welshman Ian Woosnam, who was runner-up to Torrance in earnings last season, signed for a level par 72.
Woosnam said: “Not having played here before, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’m suitably impressed. There is a lot of water, but it is a beautifully maintained and mature course that will provide a good test of golf. It should pan out to be a good competition.”
|T5||BRAND, Gordon J||ENG||18||-8|