Lauri Ruuska wrote his name into the record books by posting just the fourth sub-60 round in Challenge Tour history as a 12-under-par 59 gave him the first round lead at the Vierumäki Finnish Challenge.
The Finn carded ten birdies and one eagle on his way to a bogey-free 59 and a four-shot lead on a memorable day in the history of the Challenge Tour.
“It feels quite amazing to shoot 59,” he said. “It sounds pretty amazing to be part of the 59 club. Honestly, I knew it was going to be a low scoring week and I saw myself being able to do it, but I didn’t quite believe it. Where else would you want to shoot a 59? Maybe at a Major Championship, but to do it at home is really special.
“I got off to a good start, starting with four straight birdies, which was a pretty rapid start. In the middle stretch I holed putts on 17 and 18, then started the back nine eagle-birdie. All the birdies and eagles came in a nice stretch, and I hoped those stretches would last as long as they could. When the putts kept on rolling in, I felt like I couldn’t miss today. Honestly it really felt like that, especially when I made a long birdie on seven, probably 15 metres for birdie. That made me realise that I was one shot away from a score in the 50s. I rolled it dead centre on number eight and then I was a little bit shaky on the last where I had a shot for a 58 because I know there aren’t many guys who have done that.
“The ninth hole is normally a par five, but for the first time this year we’re playing it as a par four, so it made it even more challenging, especially when I wanted to birdie it. I hit a good tee shot and just tried to hit the green with my approach. The ball was going straight at the flag, but I pulled it a touch and it landed about four metres from the hole. Emilo Cuartero Blanco was in my group, and he made a putt from the same line, so I knew it had a chance of going in. I was pretty nervous on that putt, for sure.”
Ruuska started his round with four birdies in a row from the tenth hole and reached the turn with back-to-back gains for a six under par front nine. He began the home stretch in the same vein, carding an eagle and a birdie from the first hole, his tenth, before making three further gains on the sixth, seventh and eighth holes.
A few centimetres denied Ruuska the chance to become only the second player in Challenge Tour history to card a 58 as his birdie attempt at the last narrowly missed. However, it was a day of celebration in front of family and friends for the Finn. Compatriot Kristian Kulokorpi and Scot Jack McDonald lie four shots back from Ruuska in a share for second place following their opening rounds of 63.
How many Challenge Tour players have shot 59 or better?
Adrien Mörk carded a 59 at the 2006 Tikida Hotels Agadir Moroccan Classic, becoming the first player to sign for a sub-60 round at a European Tour Group staged event. He was joined in the history books by Nicolò Ravano, who posted a 59 at the 2016 Fred Olsen Challenge de España, before Alejandro del Rey went one better in 2021. The Spainard recorded a round of 58 at the Swiss Challenge to become the first player on either the DP World Tour or Challenge Tour to reach the feat. However the first day at Vierumäki Resort belonged to Ruuska as he took the lead in style and joined the sub-60 club.