Boonchu Ruangkit’s remarkable run of form on the European Senior Tour continued as he created yet more history with a flawless four under par 69 in the opening round of the Berenberg Bank Masters.
The Thai star, who is chasing his third consecutive victory, has a one stroke advantage over American Jerry Bruner, meaning he has now led the field after each of the last seven rounds of Senior Tour competition– a new record.
Ruangkit’s wire-to-wire victory in The Aberdeen Brunei Senior Masters presented by The Stapleford Forum was followed by a record breaking wire-to-wire win on home soil in the Chang Thailand Senior Masters presented by ISPS, where he posted a record low total of 21 under par 195 and a record winning margin of 11 strokes.
The 53 year old, who is known as ‘The Godfather of Asian Golf’, has carried forward that form to The Links at Fancourt, where the Senior Tour is making its first trip to South Africa.
He opened with a birdie on the first hole and picked up further shots on the ninth, 16th and the 18th holes to once again sit top of the leaderboard.
“I’m very happy today because I was on the fairway on nearly every hole and you can play well from there,” said Ruangkit, the current Order of Merit leader. “Today I played some good golf but I know it might be tough tomorrow as it is going to be windy.
“You have to be patient playing this course. When I came to practice here I knew I’d have to hit the ball well to keep my form going. It’s important to be accurate here.
“My confidence is high but it wasn’t when I saw this golf course on the first day! The greens slope a lot and this doesn’t suit my game. I’ve had to adjust my game a lot.
“The greens here are very similar to in the US but they are very different to what we played on in Thailand and Brunei which were flat. I will need to be patient tomorrow but I will try my best.”
Ruangkit played alongside course designer Gary Player, the 18 time Major and Senior Major Champion, who opened with a four over par 77, and former Ryder Cup Captain Sam Torrance who bogeyed the last hole for a one under par 72.
Torrance said: “I played lovely but had two unplayables near the end on the two par fives and made six on both. Apart from that I played beautifully. It’s a very fair course but it’s just very difficult. I’ve been slow starting for a while so it’s good to be up there from the start.”
Bruner is the closest rival to Ruangkit after had a mixed round of 70 which included seven birdies but also a double bogey on the tenth hole followed by consecutive bogeys on the 11th and 12th holes.
Italian Giuseppe Cali, Australian David Merriman and South Africa Steve Van Vuuren are two strokes off the pace while Torrance is in a group of ten players on one under par.
John Bland, who is attached to Fancourt, opened with a steady one over par 74 playing alongside former World Number One Ian Woosnam, who posted the same score to lie in a share of 20th position.
Bland said: “I just couldn’t get the right club in my hand. The score doesn’t reflect how I played. I enjoyed playing with Woosie again and we had a lot of fun.”