Thailand’s Poom Pattaropong claimed the Boonchu Ruangkit Championship two weeks ago, but there is always another winner there every year and that is the great man himself, Boonchu Ruangkit. We spoke to the five-time Asian Tour winner, and two-time Thailand Open champion, that week about his popular event – which is hosted on the All Thailand Golf Tour and normally co-sanctioned with the Asian Development Tour, except during seasons when coronavirus is prevalent.
How have you been during the pandemic, where were you, and did you play golf?
I have lived in Bangkok and Khao Yai (in Nakhon Ratchasima province). If the situation was not so good, I would stay in Khao Yai. Friends would come to visit me there and we played golf together very often.
You must have been very relieved that you can stage your event this year and last year?
My tournament was postponed twice because of coronavirus. Today, I am extremely happy that I have done as I promised to the players. I remain committed to nurturing the future generation of Thailand’s professional golfers but admit that the COVID-19 crisis made this year’s edition the most challenging to organise.
Why did you first start the Boonchu Ruangkit Championship?
Thailand’s senior golfers have moved on to become legends, so we have to build the new generation. We should have tournaments for them to gain experience, help their income and give them the chance to attend international tournaments on the Asian Tour and Japan Tour.
My tournament is organised to allow young Thai players to sharpen their skills and pursue their careers on the international stage. I believe that our golfers are second to none and it is very important that we have an appropriate development programme for them, as well as a wealth of tournaments.
How happy have you been with the event’s progress?
The progress has been excellent and I am very happy with what we have achieved so far. I would like to thank all of our sponsors for their support this year, and every year. This year was particularly exciting as for the first time we had four women professional golfers and some celebrities attend the event. It certainly added some colour to the tournament, especially seeing the women compete with the male golfers; this would have been a great experience for them.
What have been the highlights for you over the years about your event?
Importantly, we have worked hard to make sure the tournament is international standard. You will see a players’ lounge, a LED display on the 18th green, and of course it is broadcast live on television and it is streamed live.
We want to ensure our players compete in an environment that is the same as when they play overseas. This will help them be more comfortable and confident when they compete in other countries.
My tournament can serve as a springboard for Thais to play in the global arena.
And of course, it has been great that the top players from Thailand complete in my event every year.
What are your long-term plans for the event?
We will have to see what happens with coronavirus, but we are confident the situation will improve.
I still want to make the Boonchu Ruangkit Championship an event where senior and young players can meet each other every year. It is a special situation.
However, much also depends on the continued support from our sponsors.
Is it hard work staging your own event?
It’s harder and harder to organise the tournament every year. This year it’s been really hard work, because of the coronavirus crisis. This year we had less sponsors compared with the previous year, but it is understandable in this climate especially for sponsors in sectors hardest hit. It has been a challenge, but we have been very determined to keep going.
During your playing career what do you think your greatest achievements were?
Every tournament was important for me and I did my best every time. Also, being the president of the Thailand PGA Tour and helping the development of professional golf in Thailand makes me very proud. It is very rewarding to play a part in helping golfers, especially the youngsters, to play and develop their skills.
Do you miss those playing days?
Yes, I miss those playing days. When I see young golfers playing on the tour, I would like to join them but I’m too old now. Now I’m looking forward to playing on the Senior Tour in Thailand soon.
What was the secret to your great success when playing and winning?
Sponsors have been the secret to my career success. I would like to thank them for the support. They are behind my success. I would never be the person I am today without them.