In a nail-biting finish to the Kolon Korea Open, rising young Korean star Minkyu Kim defeated his compatriot Mingyu Cho in a three-hole play-off at Woo Jeong Hills Country Club.
Kim, aged 21, holed a 10-foot birdie putt on the imposing par-five 18th to finish the play-off, which was played over holes 16, 17 and 18, on even par, while Cho made bogey to end one over. It was a stunning turnaround as Kim started with a par and a bogey verses the two pars his opponent had made to put him in control.
It is the first time that Kim – who hit global headlines in 2018 when he claimed the D+D Real Czech Challenge on the Challenge Tour, becoming its youngest-ever winner at 17 years, 64 days – has won in Korea and his success was rewarded with an invite to The Open at St. Andrews in July. Cho’s consolation prize is also a place in the elite field for the game’s oldest Major.
Kim began the day three behind the overnight leaders Cho and Korean Taehoon Ok but steadily worked his way through the field with a two-under-par 69 to set the clubhouse lead on four under, which included a bogey on the last.
Korean Hyungjoon Lee, playing in the penultimate group, look set to surpass that total and most likely win the tournament when he was five under playing 18 but added to the drama of the day when he finished with a double bogey after finding out of bounds.
Thirty-three-year-old Cho then had a chance to win the 64th staging of Korea’s national Open in normal time with a 20-foot birdie putt on 18 but his attempt narrowly missed, and he signed for a 72 to send the event in over time.
“I can’t believe I have actually won!” said Kim, who has posted seven top-10s in his last 10 starts.
“I have come close to winning before and I wondered if I would ever win. I felt good on the back nine and started to feel I had a chance. Straight after I won, I thought of my father; I have to thank him for this. My golf is just beginning.”
On the final play-off hole Cho hit an errant drive which forced him to punch his ball back into play while Kim assumed control after hitting his second over three green. Cho’s third found the edge of the green from where he played a poor chip to 25 feet. He proceeded to miss that while Kim got up and down for the most important birdie of his career.
Said Cho: “[Winning] is a difficult task. I think it was a good day, and I will move on. I am now planning to go and play in Europe for the first time, where, I am sure, I’ll learn a lot.”
American Jarin Todd closed with a 70 to tie for third with Lee, who returned a 71, one shot short of the play-off.
“I made a few mistakes on the back nine,” said Todd.
“Those holes are playing pretty tough. Missed on the wrong spots, paid for it. But yeah, I would have taken a top-five finish at the start of the week just because this course doesn’t really suit me. I’m happy with the result. Good birdie on the last. I hit a good drive and a really good second shot. Kind of unlucky to have it fly that far but made a good chip and putt for birdie there. I didn’t really look at the leaderboards out there. I was thinking the winning score might be seven or eight under. But looking at it now kind of hurts. This is how it goes but I am getting there.”
The Asian Tour takes a short summer break now before restarting at the US$500,000 Mandiri Indonesia Open, which will be played at Pondok Indah Golf Course from August 4-7.
It will mark the start of an exciting second half of the season which will see a full schedule of tournaments played through until January 2023.
Scores after round 4 of the Kolon The 64th Korea Open Golf Championship being played at the par 71, 7326 yard Woo Jeong Hills course (am – denotes amateur):
280 – Minkyu Kim (KOR) 72-71-68-69, Mingyu Cho (KOR) 71-70-67-72.
281 – Jarin Todd (USA) 69-69-73-70, Hyungjoon Lee (KOR) 71-68-71-71.
282 – Junseok Lee (AUS) 72-72-66-72.
283 – Kyongjun Moon (KOR) 69-70-74-70, Taeho Kim (KOR) 72-72-70-69, Taehee Lee (KOR) 72-66-73-72, Taehoon Ok (KOR) 69-69-70-75, Sarit Suwannarut (THA) 71-72-67-73.
284 – Yoseop Seo (KOR) 77-67-70-70, Junghwan Lee (KOR) 68-71-71-74.
285 – Soonsang Hong (KOR) 69-73-73-70, Junsung Kim (KOR) 72-69-72-72, Jaemin Hwang #859 (KOR) 68-74-71-72, Sanghee Lee (KOR) 69-68-75-73.
286 – Bio Kim (KOR) 72-69-74-71, Chan Shih-chang (TPE) 73-72-70-71, Junggon Hwang (KOR) 71-73-71-71, Yongjun Bae (KOR) 74-71-69-72.
287 – Kyungnam Kang (KOR) 74-71-68-74.
288 – Bjorn Hellgren (SWE) 73-73-72-70, Pavit Tangkamolprasert (THA) 73-73-72-70, Hanbyeol Kim (KOR) 71-73-73-71, Rattanon Wannasrichan (THA) 73-70-72-73, Doyeon Hwang (KOR) 71-68-73-76, Nitithorn Thippong (THA) 69-74-68-77.
289 – Taehoon Kim #5272 (KOR) 72-72-75-70, Sanghyun Park (KOR) 73-67-77-72, Neil Schietekat (RSA) 74-72-71-72, Prom Meesawat (THA) 76-69-71-73, Dongkyu Jang (KOR) 74-68-73-74, Jeongwoo Ham (KOR) 70-73-71-75, Guntaek Koh (KOR) 75-70-69-75.
290 – Minsu Kim (921) (KOR) 74-72-74-70, Jeonghyeob Hyun (KOR) 72-72-74-72, Yunseok Gang (KOR) 72-71-73-74, Yubin Jang (am, KOR) 71-73-70-76.
291 – Jiho Yang (KOR) 75-69-77-70, Jinsung Kim (KOR) 76-70-75-70, Todd Baek (USA) 71-72-75-73.
292 – Danthai Boonma (THA) 73-73-74-72, Seungsu Han (USA) 68-75-71-78.
293 – Jinho Choi (KOR) 77-68-74-74, Poom Saksansin (THA) 71-72-75-75, Jinjae Byun (KOR) 76-70-71-76, Miguel Carballo (ARG) 74-68-71-80.
294 – Jeongmin Park (KOR) 71-72-77-74, Richard Jung (CAN) 74-72-72-76, Seonghyeon Jeon (KOR) 72-70-75-77.
295 – Taeyang Jung (KOR) 70-74-80-71, Chang Wei-lun (TPE) 69-73-79-74, Wonjoon Lee (AUS) 76-70-74-75, Siddikur Rahman (BAN) 71-71-76-77.
296 – Haecheon An (am, KOR) 74-71-77-74, Tirawat Kaewsiribandit (THA) 73-73-75-75, Wooyoung Cho (am, KOR) 75-71-75-75, Byungjun Kim (KOR) 70-75-73-78, Itthipat Buranatanyarat (THA) 72-74-70-80.
297 – Dongmin Lee (KOR) 75-69-77-76, Jaekyeong Lee (KOR) 71-74-74-78.
298 – Jooyeob Baek (KOR) 72-69-79-78, Naoki Sekito (JPN) 74-72-73-79.
299 – Heungchol Joo (KOR) 70-74-80-75, Kevin Phelan (IRL) 72-73-78-76, Hongtaek Kim (KOR) 71-73-74-81.
301 – Kyubeom Jun (KOR) 75-71-74-81.