Another week on the European Senior Tour, another win for Boonchu Ruangkit. The Thai ace made it three wins in three starts as he charged from four behind to clinch the Berenberg Bank Masters in South Africa by three shots.
As overnight leaders Sam Torrance and Angel Franco dropped shots it was Ruangkit who seized the initiative, with birdies at 13,14 and 15 proving pivotal en-route to a 69 that was enough to seal a comfortable victory.
The win means Ruangkit becomes the first man since Tommy Horton 13 years ago to lift three consecutive Senior titles and gives him his third victory in only eight starts.
Denis O’Sullivan ended the week as the best placed Irishman at 11 over par, and had it not been for a final hole double bogey he would have found himself inside the top 20.
The man from Cork had started his week with disappointing rounds of 78 and 79, but saved his best till last and his closing 73 was good enough to earn him a cheque for just under €4,500.
Jimmy Heggarty was just a shot further down the field after a 78 on Sunday left him with a three round total of 12 over par. The Ulsterman birdied the 16th and 18th to finish his week on a positive note, his only birdies on the final day.
A disappointing week for Drogheda’s Des Smyth ended miserably with a quadruple bogey 7 at his penultimate hole.
The nightmare at the par-3 17th was followed by a birdie at the last but it all contributed to a five over par round of 78 and a tie for 48th at 17 over par.
Champion Ruangkit ended the week as the only man under par and was understandably delighted after clinching the hat-trick of wins,
He said: “I’m very happy to win three times in a row.”
“I’d never thought about doing it before but I’m very proud. It was my first time in South Africa and I’d met Gary Player before but it was great to play with him in the first round.”
It proved to be a frustrating day for Scotsman Torrance who endured an awful start, double bogeying the third before dropping shots at both the fourth and fifth.
Three birdies on the inward nine helped him to claim a share for second place on level par and the former Ryder Cup captain was full of praise for the red-hot Ruangkit.
“He’s some player – he’s fantastic,” said Torrance.
“We’ve got a new rival on the scene and I’ve got my work cut out this year if he plays anymore.
“I had such a horrific start today. I dropped four shots in three holes but I dug in and made birdies on the 13th and 14th but Boonchu went crazy on the back nine.”
After collecting another winner’s cheque Ruangkit has extended his lead at the top of the Senior Order of Merit. With season earnings of over €118,000 the former kickboxer has a commanding lead of €47,896 over second-placed Torrance having played a tournament less.
The Senior Tour takes a considerable break after a fortnight in Asia and a week in Africa with the next scheduled event the Handa Senior Masters at Stapleford Park in May.