Korean Hongtaek Kim showed he is just as good on the golf course as he is playing simulator golf today when he beat Thailand’s Chonlatit Chuenboonngam in a sudden-death play-off to win the GS Caltex Maekyung Open at Namseoul Country Club – on a overcast day with persistent rain that left everyone drenched.

Kim, a star on the golf simulator circuit on Korea’s GTour – his nickname is King of the Screen thanks to 12 wins – drained a knee-knocking four-foot par putt on the first extra hole to claim one of Korea’s most coveted titles.

The pair finished tied in regulation play on 10-under after Kim, who started the day three behind overnight leader Junghwan Lee from Korea, had stormed through on the back nine with three birdies in a row from 13 and another on 17.

His two-under-par 69 gave him the clubhouse lead before Chonlatit, playing in the last group and bidding to become the first foreigner to win the event since American Mark Calcavecchia in 2004, courageously holed par save putts on 17 and 18, both from about eight feet, to force the 43rd staging of the event into overtime.

In the play-off, held on the demanding par-four 18th and with the rain constant, Kim found the fairway off the tee, but his Thai opponent landed in the large bunker on the left of the fairway. Chonlatit’s second shot clipped the lip of the trap and left him with a 50-yard approach shot while Kim’s second finished just off the back of the green.

The result was more or less decided when Chonlatit’s third landed 25 feet short. His par putt also struggled to reach the hole and after he holed his four footer for a bogey Kim had virtually the same putt for par to secure the win.

Joked 30-year-old Kim: “There was a misunderstanding that I was only good at simulator golf. I solved the misunderstanding today.

“I think simulator golf has actually been very helpful. Competing in championships in simulator golf has helped relieve tension.”

He earned a cheque for US$221,231 for what is his first victory on the Asian Tour and third on the Korean PGA Tour, plus he joins an elite list of Korean golfers who won this title, including Bio Kim, Sanghyun Park, Sangho Cho, and Jongduck Kim.

Chonlatit, who led at the halfway mark following a stunning 62 – the lowest round of the week – was also trying to become the first Thai to have his name inscribed on the trophy.

He had a one-shot lead with three to play but made an expensive bogey on the par-five 16th.

“It was very hard today,” said the 25-year-old, who was attempting to win for the first time on the Asian Tour.

“Everything was hard, I was constantly trying to keep my grips dry, but I’m still very happy with the tournament. I had some good luck in the other rounds holing out shots and chips.”

He also lost in a sudden-death play-off against Australian Wade Ormsby at the International Series Thailand at the beginning of 2023. To the surprise of many it has taken him this long to once again be in contention.

He said: “I just changed my swing a little bit, and I have worked very hard on it. I feel like my game is back now.”

Canadian Richard T. Lee closed with a 71 to finish in third place, two short of the play-off.

“Yeah, I mean I had a lot of good looks but the putts just didn’t seem to drop in today,” said the two-time winner on the Asian Tour, who frustratingly made bogeys on 16 and 18.

“I hit the putts that I wanted to, but they just didn’t fall in. I guess next time I’ll make sure I get a little bit more luck. And yeah, it was tough today with the rain and the conditions, so I’m actually pleased.”

Since the Asian Tour returned from the COVID-19 pandemic he has finished second twice and third on three occasions.

Junghwan Lee shot a 75 and finished in a tie for fourth with countrymen Yang Jubin and Taehoon Ok, who both carded 68s.

The Asian Tour takes a short break next before returning to Korea next month for the Kolon Korea Open. The tournament will take place at Woo Jeung Hills Country Club from June 20-23. American Steve Seungsu Han is the defending champion.

Scores after round 4 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):

274 – Hongtaek Kim (KOR) 69-65-71-69, Chonlatit Chuenboonngam (THA) 71-62-70-71.

(Kim won on first-hole of sudden-death play-off)

276 – Richard T. Lee (CAN) 66-70-69-71.
277 – Yubin Jang (KOR) 66-69-74-68, Taehoon Ok (KOR) 67-72-70-68, Junghwan Lee (KOR) 67-69-66-75.
278 – Junggon Hwang (KOR) 72-69-71-66.
279 – Mingyu Cho (KOR) 68-69-71-71.
280 – Sanghee Lee (KOR) 73-65-72-70, Kyungnam Kang (KOR) 65-69-73-73.
281 – Steve Lewton (ENG) 70-69-72-70, Jinho Choi (KOR) 70-67-74-70, Gyumin Lee (KOR) 69-70-72-70, Junseok Lee (AUS) 72-67-70-72, Kristoffer Broberg (SWE) 68-68-71-74.
282 – Guntaek Koh (KOR) 70-72-73-67, Woohyun Kim (KOR) 66-74-72-70, Miguel Tabuena (PHI) 70-69-72-71, Seungtaek Lee (KOR) 74-68-66-74.
283 – Yeongsu Kim (KOR) 72-71-71-69, Soomin Lee (KOR) 70-69-73-71, Wooyoung Cho (KOR) 70-69-73-71, Rattanon Wannasrichan (THA) 69-72-70-72, Suteepat Prateeptienchai (THA) 73-69-68-73.
284 – Dongseop Maeng (KOR) 70-69-73-72, Yongjun Bae (KOR) 71-72-72-69, Seunghyuk Kim (KOR) 71-70-68-75.
285 – Jazz Janewattananond (THA) 73-69-71-72, Seongje Park (KOR) 72-71-72-70, Ajeetesh Sandhu (IND) 71-71-74-69, Jiho Yang (KOR) 71-67-72-75, Hanmil Jung (KOR) 67-70-71-77.
286 – Jeongwoo Ham (KOR) 68-72-73-73, Sungyeol Kwon (KOR) 72-68-73-73, Hyungjoon Lee (KOR) 72-69-71-74, Pavit Tangkamolprasert (THA) 71-69-76-70.
287 – Sungjoon Park (KOR) 67-72-74-74, S.S.P. Chawrasia (IND) 72-67-73-75, Sungho Lee (KOR) 72-70-71-74, Lee Chieh-po (TPE) 71-72-72-72, Denwit Boriboonsub (THA) 72-69-71-75, Sadom Kaewkanjana (THA) 71-71-74-71, Hung Chien-yao (TPE) 71-71-76-69.
288 – Todd Sinnott (AUS) 74-66-74-74, Minjun Kim (KOR) 70-73-72-73, Kyongjun Moon (KOR) 73-70-72-73, Miguel Carballo (ARG) 66-74-75-73, Junhee Choi (am, KOR) 73-69-69-77, Seungbin Choi (KOR) 72-69-69-78, Junghun Park (am, KOR) 75-66-77-70.
289 – Minsu Kim (am, KOR) 74-67-74-74, Sanghyun Park (KOR) 67-74-74-74, Sungkug Park (KOR) 71-72-73-73, Phachara Khongwatmai (THA) 72-69-78-70.
290 – Nitithorn Thippong (THA) 71-72-75-72.
291 – Brendan Jones (AUS) 74-68-73-76, Hanbyeol Kim (KOR) 72-71-74-74, Chang Wei-lun (TPE) 70-72-75-74.
292 – Yetaek Lim (KOR) 73-70-76-73.
293 – Sungmin Cho (KOR) 72-70-74-77, Michael Maguire (USA) 69-73-75-76, Suradit Yongcharoenchai (THA) 73-67-78-75.
294 – Jack Thompson (AUS) 71-69-75-79, Yoon Chung (USA) 70-72-75-77.
295 – Taehee Lee (KOR) 70-73-74-78.
297 – Wonjoon Lee (AUS) 70-69-78-80.

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