Lauri Ruuska, 1089th this week in the world rankings, put his name in the record books by completing the fourth round in less than 60 in the history of the Challenge Tour. It was in the 1st round of the Vierumäki Finnish Challenge, in his native country, thanks to 10 birdies and an eagle, for zero bogey, starting from 10.
His three predecessors on the Challenge Tour shelves are Adrien Mörk, author of a 59 during the Tikida Hotels Agadir Moroccan Classic 2006, then Nicolò Ravano ten years later, during a Fred Olsen Challenge de España in 2016, with also a card of 59.
Even better, Alejandro del Rey returned a card of 58 in 2021 during the Swiss Challenge, an absolute first on the DP World Tour or the Challenge Tour.
Lauri Ruuska, statements
"It's an incredible feeling to play 59, and to do it at home is really special.
I got off to a good start, starting with four birdies in a row, then I started the comeback by chaining an eagle and a birdie. When the putts kept coming in, I felt like I couldn't miss today,” Ruuska reacted after this historic day.
The only two players to keep up such a high pace were fellow countryman Kristian Kulokorpi and Scotsman Jack McDonald. They played 63 and will start their second round on Friday 8 under par, and therefore four strokes behind the unlikely leader of this Finnish Challenge.
Closely followed, at -7, by the American Cole Madey and the Swede Kristoffer Broberg. On the French side, it was a little less brilliant, but overall solid, with as best representative, this Thursday, Benjamin Hébert (14th, -4) who played in 67.
At 36, "Ben" slammed six birdies in total , for two bogeys. He finished one stroke less than Sébastien Gros, Franck Daux and Damien Perrier (23rd, -3). Just behind them, Julien Quesne and Romain Wattel, 2nd Sunday in the Scottish Challenge, had to settle for a solid 69 (43rd, -2), ahead of Oihan Guillamoundeguy, Pierre Pineau and Martin Couvra, the promising amateur from Cannes-Mougins (68th, -1), who all returned a card of 70.
That's 9 French players under par. Five other French players missed their Thursday a bit, but some can still hope to make the cut, if they hit very hard on Friday in Finland: Gregory Bourdy and Nicolas Platret (93rd, par) did better on Thursday than Robin Roussel (115th, +1), Julien Sale and Félix Mory (131st, +2).