Kyungnam Kang, one of Korea’s most experienced campaigners, laid down a marker on the opening day of the GS Caltex Maekyung Open today shooting an imperious bogey-free six-under-par 65 to take the lead here at one of the country’s venerable old venues Namseoul Country Club, south Seoul.

The 41-year-old, an 11-time winner on the Korean PGA Tour, made six birdies – including four in a row from the 12th â€“ and has one-shot lead over his compatriots Jang Yubin and Woohyun Kim, Canadian Richard T. Lee and Miguel Carballo from Argentina.

Kang has been a professional for 20 years but has never won on the Asian Tour.

He’s made the perfect start to try and add that feather to his cap and record his first victory since 2021.

He said: “I’ve played a lot in Namseoul. It’s a difficult course every time I play it, but I made a lot of birdies today, so I gained a lot of confidence.

“It’s a good performance considering I have a bad back. I withdrew from the first event on the Korean PGA Tour season last month because of it. It was even hurting when I was breathing. It is still not great.”

Despite the injury the Korean says he is fully focused on winning as many times as possible in the twilight of his career.

“I hope to win 15 or more games until I retire. Sanghyun Park has 12 wins, I have 11 wins. Sanghyun is an excellent player and I want to catch him,” added Kang, who says he does Pilates for one or two hours every day and: “I ride my bike for 50 minutes whether it’s early evening or early morning. I’m just trying to take care of myself.”

Jang’s excitement at competing in this week’s event for the first time since turning professional was behind his fine start.

He finished tied eighth last year at a venue he has played many times as a member of the Korean amateur team and his familiarity with the course was evident as he moved into contention making six birdies and one bogey.

The 21-year-old is one of Korea’s hottest properties having been part of the Korean team that won gold at last October’s Hangzhou Asian Games – the event that marked his last appearance as an amateur.

At the start of this year Jang targeted the three events he wanted to win the most and the GS Catltex Maekyung Open was one of them.

“I have taken a step forward,” said Jang.

“When I played in professional tournaments before as an amateur, I was very nervous, so I didn’t play well. Now I’m not nervous.

“I gained so much experience participating here before as an amateur. That experience has helped me, and I feel like I have improved since last year.”

In the Hong Kong Open, soon after the Asian Games and in his first event overseas as a professional, he shot a stunning closing round seven-under-par 63 to finish solo fifth.

And in the early season events on the Korean PGA Tour he has also been in the running: finishing fourth, joint sixth and tied 24th.

Carballo is the surprise package at the end of day one, but perhaps he shouldn’t be bearing in mind he shot 66 on the opening day last year to sit in third place. He eventually tied for 35th.

The veteran golfer has done well in an event traditionally dominated by Korean golfers. The most recent overseas player to win was Mark Calcavecchia from the United States in 2004.

“I like the golf course,” said the 45-year-old.

“I hit the fairways and I hit the greens, and the putting was working. This year the first couple of tournaments I played well, but the putter wasn’t working. The scoring wasn’t coming but the last two tournaments I played very good, the putter is not very good but it’s working.”

John Catlin from the United States, chasing a record-setting third consecutive win on the Asian Tour, appeared to be in complete control at three-under with three to play, without a bogey on his card, but proceeded to bogey the final three holes for a 71.

His playing partners Koreans Guntaek Koh, currently ranked first on the Korean PGA Tour, and Chanmin Jung, the defending champion, fired rounds of 70 and 72 respectively. 

Korean Bio Kim, a two-time winner here, opened with a 75 and has much to do to become the first player to win this event three times.

Scores after round 1 of the 43rd GS Caltex Maekyung Open Golf Championship being played at Namseoul Country Club, a par-71, 7,083-yard course (am – denotes amateur):

65 – Kyungnam Kang (KOR).
66 – Yubin Jang (KOR), Richard T. Lee (CAN), Miguel Carballo (ARG), Woohyun Kim (KOR).
67 – Sanghyun Park (KOR), Junghwan Lee (KOR), Sungjoon Park (KOR), Hanmil Jung (KOR), Taehoon Ok (KOR).
68 – Seonghyeon An (am, KOR), Kristoffer Broberg (SWE), Jeongwoo Ham (KOR), Mingyu Cho (KOR).
69 – Hongtaek Kim (KOR), Gyumin Lee (KOR), Rattanon Wannasrichan (THA), Prom Meesawat (THA), Michael Maguire (USA).
70 – Wooyoung Cho (KOR), Soomin Lee (KOR), Dongseop Maeng (KOR), Chang Wei-lun (TPE), Yoon Chung (USA), Jinho Choi (KOR), Wonjoon Lee (AUS), Miguel Tabuena (PHI), Meenwhee Kim (KOR), Taehee Lee (KOR), Guntaek Koh (KOR), Steve Lewton (ENG), Minjun Kim (KOR).
71 – Sadom Kaewkanjana (THA), Jiho Yang (KOR), Lee Chieh-po (TPE), Seunghyuk Kim (KOR), Jack Thompson (AUS), Ajeetesh Sandhu (IND), Nitithorn Thippong (THA), Hung Chien-yao (TPE), Chonlatit Chuenboonngam (THA), Innchoon Hwang (KOR), Chan Shih-chang (TPE), John Catlin (USA), Yongjun Bae (KOR), Pavit Tangkamolprasert (THA), Jonghark Kim (KOR), Settee Prakongvech (THA), S. Chikkarangappa (IND), Jiung Jeong (KOR), Sungkug Park (KOR).
72 – Trevor Simsby (USA), Denwit Boriboonsub (THA), Minkyu Kim (KOR), Sungyeol Kwon (KOR), Sangpil Yoon (KOR), Sungho Lee (KOR), Yeongsu Kim (KOR), Junggon Hwang (KOR), Bjorn Hellgren (SWE), Chanwoo Kim (KOR), Phachara Khongwatmai (THA), Kevin Chun (NZL), Seungbin Choi (KOR), Junseok Lee (AUS), Berry Henson (USA), Hyungjoon Lee (KOR), Chanmin Jung (KOR), Yonggu Shin (CAN), Travis Smyth (AUS), Hanbyeol Kim (KOR), Ian Snyman (RSA), Zach Murray (AUS), Minsu Kim #921 (KOR), Siddikur Rahman (BAN), Sungmin Cho (KOR), S.S.P. Chawrasia (IND), Seongje Park (KOR), Sihwan Kim (USA), Seunghyun Pi (am, KOR).
73 – Kevin Yuan (AUS), Kyongjun Moon (KOR), Jazz Janewattananond (THA), Kyungnam Park (KOR), Ben Leong (MAS), Jaewoong Eom (KOR), Jaeil Song (KOR), Ho Yu-cheng (TPE), Suradit Yongcharoenchai (THA), Yetaek Lim (KOR), Junhee Choi (am, KOR), Poom Saksansin (THA), Sanghee Lee (KOR), Jinsung Kim (KOR), Suteepat Prateeptienchai (THA).
74 – Daihan Lee (KOR), Brendan Jones (AUS), Dongeun Kim (KOR), Justin Warren (AUS), Minsu Kim (am, KOR), Taeho Kim (KOR), Minhyuk Song (KOR), Taehoon Kim (KOR), Doyeob Mun (KOR), Seungtaek Lee (KOR), Eunshin Park (KOR), Andrew Dodt (AUS), Gunn Charoenkul (THA), Todd Sinnott (AUS).
75 – Jibaek Hur (am, KOR), Bio Kim (KOR), Atiruj Winaicharoenchai (THA), Shahriffuddin Ariffin (MAS), Seungsu Han (USA), Shiv Kapur (IND), Dongmin Lee (KOR), Seonghyeon Jeon (KOR), Minchel Choi (KOR), Yunseok Kang (KOR), Junghun Park (am, KOR), Doohwan Bang (KOR).
76 – Jaekyeong Lee (KOR), Dokyu Park (KOR), Jongduck Kim (KOR), David Drysdale (SCO).
77 – Inhoi Hur (KOR), Deyen Lawson (AUS), Taeyoung Lim (am, KOR), Giwhan Kim (KOR), Jed Morgan (AUS), Heemin Chang (KOR), Dongha Lee (KOR).
78 – Baekjun Kim (KOR), Jaeyoung Koo (KOR), Changwoo Lee (KOR), Seukhyun Baek (KOR), Yoseop Seo (KOR), Karandeep Kochhar (IND).
79 – Dongmin Kim (KOR), Siyoon Kim (am, KOR), Sengyong Kim (KOR).
82 – Gwanwoo Ma (KOR).
83 – Junghwan Park (KOR).
84 – Junhong Park (KOR).

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