Emerging Korean star Taehoon Ok holed a clutch five-foot birdie putt on the last to beat his famous compatriot Bio Kim by one today and land the International Series Korea at Lotte Skyhill Country Club – on Jeju Island.
After a fierce battle down the stretch, Ok prevailed after carding a three-under-par 68, for a tournament total of 15 under par. Bio also came in with a 68.
American Trevor Simsby fired a 67 for sole possession of third, one stroke further back.
It’s the first time that Ok has triumphed in his five-year professional career, and he was made to work right to the very end to secure it.
He started the day with a one-shot advantage and after making three birdies in a row from the 11th he had a two-shot lead and appeared on course for a comfortable victory.
However, moments after he missed 15-foot par putt on the par-three 17th, Bio, playing in the group ahead, holed a six-foot birdie putt on 18 to tie the lead on 14 under.
With a sudden-death play-off looking a strong possibility, Ok bravely responded by hitting a masterful third shot close in before confidently holing out for a life-changing victory, which also earned him a cheque for US$270,000.
“I asked my caddie on 17 if he really thought I can birdie 18 and he said, ‘go for it’,” said the 23-year-old.
“I have learned a lot by playing in the final pairings recently so that really helped.”
He came close to winning the Kolon Korea Open this year and was tied for the lead after the third round but carded a disappointing 75 on the final day and finished joint sixth place; and, he also tied for fifth in the GS Caltex Maekyung Open, all pointing to the fact a win this year is not far away.
“This win is for my father,” added a tearful Ok, whose dad passed away when he was 10 years old. When asked what his plans will be moving forward and how he will spend his winnings he said his mother would handle that.
Pre-tournament favourite Bio said he took a lot of positives from the result despite the narrow loss.
Said Bio: “Actually, I wasn’t playing well coming in here, so I am pleased to have played so well and re-discovered my game as we head into a busy second half of the year.”
He had been looking to win his third title of the year in Korea: in May, he claimed the GS Caltex Maekyung Open in Korea for his maiden victory on the Asian Tour and the following month he won the SK Telecom Open on the Korean PGA Tour here on Jeju Island for his eighth win on that circuit.
Simsby’s result is his best performance since claiming the Malaysian Open in March of 2022.
“I put in a lot of work in the middle part of this year,” said the American.
“Obviously, I had kind of a rough beginning, but plenty of golf to be played. And it’s just nice to see the work paying off, because I’m excited obviously for next year and moving forward as well. We’re gonna have some great events.”
Korean Yunseok Gang came in with a 66, to finish fourth, while India’s Gaganjeet Bhullar, carded a 67, to take fifth.
“It was quite tough today actually, because the last few days, the golf course has been really soft. It didn’t rain the last three – four days, so today the back nine greens started getting a little firm,” said Bhullar, who was victorious at the Mandiri Indonesian Open for a record third time this month.
“It was very difficult to adapt, we have been coming from last few days when the conditions were totally soft, and then suddenly on Sunday afternoon back nine, you know, everything turns out to be a little firm. So, there was a bit of adjustment in that, but I think overall I played pretty well the last three rounds.”
Wooyoung Cho, the country’s top amateur who fired a stunning 61 on day three, signed off with a 72 to tie for seventh.
The Asian Tour travels to Japan next for The 38th Shinhan Donghae Open, being played at Koma Country Club from September 8-11. It will mark the first time the prestigious Korean event has been played in Japan.
Scores after round 4 of the International Series Korea being played at the par 71, 7079 Yards Lotte Skyhill Jeju CC course (am – denotes amateur):
269 – Taehoon Ok (KOR) 68-64-69-68.
270 – Bio Kim (KOR) 69-63-70-68.
271 – Trevor Simsby (USA) 67-69-68-67.
272 – Yunseok Gang (KOR) 67-73-66-66.
273 – Gaganjeet Bhullar (IND) 72-65-69-67, Jeunghun Wang (KOR) 68-71-67-67.
274 – Woohyun Kim (KOR) 68-71-69-66, Pavit Tangkamolprasert (THA) 63-73-67-71, Wooyoung Cho (am, KOR) 72-69-61-72.
275 – Natipong Srithong (THA) 69-70-68-68, Junghwan Lee (KOR) 70-70-67-68, Sadom Kaewkanjana (THA) 70-70-67-68, Justin Harding (RSA) 66-70-69-70, Phachara Khongwatmai (THA) 71-69-63-72.
276 – Todd Sinnott (AUS) 69-73-67-67, Scott Vincent (ZIM) 71-69-69-67, Taeho Kim (KOR) 70-66-72-68, Zach Bauchou (USA) 70-70-71-65, Jeongwoo Ham (KOR) 70-70-68-68, Seung Park (KOR) 70-68-69-69, Andy Ogletree (USA) 67-75-64-70, Ian Snyman (RSA) 66-70-70-70, Eric Chun (KOR) 65-72-68-71, Yoseop Seo (KOR) 69-66-67-74.
277 – Travis Smyth (AUS) 70-72-66-69, Berry Henson (USA) 68-69-70-70, Chase Koepka (USA) 70-68-69-70, Seungtaek Lee (KOR) 70-68-68-71.
278 – Kyungnam Kang (KOR) 71-70-68-69, Kyongjun Moon (KOR) 70-71-68-69, Sanghun Shin (KOR) 69-71-69-69, Hanbyeol Kim (KOR) 68-66-74-70, Veer Ahlawat (IND) 70-66-74-68, Seonghyeon Jeon (KOR) 69-68-71-70, Jarin Todd (USA) 68-73-70-67, Sam Brazel (AUS) 68-71-69-70, Jazz Janewattananond (THA) 66-72-69-71.
279 – Kevin Phelan (IRL) 70-70-70-69, Junsung Kim (KOR) 69-72-69-69, Brett Rumford (AUS) 66-74-69-70, Taichi Kho (am, HKG) 73-66-69-71, Jinsung #875 Kim (KOR) 70-71-70-68, Rattanon Wannasrichan (THA) 68-72-68-71.
280 – Wade Ormsby (AUS) 69-72-67-72, Paul Peterson (USA) 71-69-68-72, Keith Horne (RSA) 68-73-71-68.
281 – Guntaek Koh (KOR) 72-69-69-71, Byungjun Kim (KOR) 70-70-72-69, Siddikur Rahman (BAN) 71-70-71-69, Yeongsu Kim (KOR) 70-68-74-69.
282 – Gwanwoo Ma (KOR) 71-71-68-72, S.S.P. Chawrasia (IND) 68-70-73-71, Yongjun Bae (KOR) 70-71-66-75, Sungkug Park (KOR) 69-71-74-68, Jake Higginbottom (AUS) 69-68-77-68.
283 – Danny Masrin (INA) 70-68-72-73, Jaco Ahlers (RSA) 68-72-73-70, Minjun Kim (KOR) 70-70-74-69.
284 – Ben Campbell (NZL) 67-73-73-71, Miguel Carballo (ARG) 72-68-74-70, Chan Shih-chang (TPE) 69-72-73-70.
285 – Sangyeop Lee (KOR) 70-72-69-74, Rashid Khan (IND) 70-71-72-72.
286 – Nitithorn Thippong (THA) 71-71-68-76, Angelo Que (PHI) 67-71-70-78, Nicholas Fung (MAS) 73-68-71-74, Miguel Tabuena (PHI) 70-72-74-70.
288 – Minchel Choi (KOR) 73-68-71-76, Chien-yao Hung (TPE) 69-72-73-74, Shiv Kapur (IND) 68-74-74-72, Cory Crawford (AUS) 70-72-74-72.
289 – Daniel Fox (AUS) 70-71-71-77, Sungho Lee (KOR) 73-69-72-75.
294 – Yikeun Chang (KOR) 70-70-79-75.