Boonchu Ruangkit has been praised by fellow golfers for his commitment to develop the game of golf in the region by staging his own tournament – the Boonchu Ruangkit Championship which starts on Thursday.
The three million baht (approximately US$91,000) event, which is sanctioned by the Asian Development Tour (ADT), will be played at the Rancho Charnvee Resort and Country Club located at the outskirts of Bangkok.
The tournament will feature the rising ADT stars including 2014 Order of Merit winner Pavit Tangkamolprasert alongside home favourites Prom Meesawat, Prayad Marksaeng, Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Chapchai Nirat and veteran Thaworn Wiratchant.
ADT regular Sattaya Supupramai, Filipino veteran Frankie Minoza and Korea’s Baek Seuk-hyun will also be part of the 132-man field.
Boonchu, who had the honour of hitting the opening drive when the Asian Tour was launched in 2004 as a players’ body, was proud to be the second Asian Tour player after Korea’s K.J. Choi, to host his own tournament.
“I would like to thank all sponsors and players for their support in this tournament. I feel proud to have an event under my name and that I am able to do my part for the golf development in Thailand, as well as for the region,” said the 58-year-old Thai, who was the vice-captain for Team Asia at the inaugural EurAsia Cup presented by DRB-HICOM last year.
“Golf is picking up in Thailand and Asia but it hasn’t been growing as fast as it used to be. I hope this event can help boost the development of the game in the region and at the same time, encourage more sponsors to come forward to support the game,” added Boonchu, who has won five Asian Tour titles and is also a five-time winner on the European Senior Tour.
Boonchu was delighted to work closely with the ADT, saying it is a great platform for upcoming players to follow in the footsteps of Pavit and Sattaya, who excelled on the burgeoning Tour last year.
“I feel very proud to see young players like Pavit and Sattaya doing so well on the ADT and working their way up onto the main Tour. They have set very good examples for the other players as it is only right that golfers progress step by step to achieve what they want,” said Boonchu.
Prom, who capped his career’s best season in 2014 by finishing third on the Asian Tour Order of Merit, expressed his excitement of playing in the tournament hosted by Boonchu, who he highly regards.
“Boonchu is our role model. He is like our brother, uncle and advisor too. He sets a good example for us, both in and out of the golf course. Discipline and responsibility are his best advices to us,” said the two-time Asian Tour winner.
Asian Tour stalwart Prayad said: “Boonchu is a great player. He has got good skills and great experiences in golf. Honestly, I don’t know if I can play as well as him when I get to his age! He doesn’t see golf as a game for just himself. He thinks of how he can contribute to golf in Thailand too. We have to support him.”
“Boonchu has put in a lot of effort to make this event happen. He believes that the quality of players will improve when they get to play more tournaments. With the event being sanctioned by ADT, I believe it will further benefit the younger players as it is a strong field and the standard is high,” added Prayad, an eight-time Asian Tour winner.
Thaworn, who at the age of 48, has won 18 Asian Tour titles, also looks up to Boonchu, who is an inspiration to the younger generation of Thai golfers.
“Boonchu is truly the legend of golf in Thailand. He is the first Thai to prove that golf can still be kept as a career even at the age of his. It’s perfect that the event is sanctioned by the ADT. I’m sure the young players out there will learn from this event and gain a lot of good experience.”
Since it was inaugurated in 2010, the ADT has grown from five events in the first year to a record 21 tournaments in 2014. The ADT has announced a provisional 2015 schedule of a minimum 17 tournaments with several more to be announced in due course.
For more information on the ADT, please visit www.asiandevelopmenttour.com