Seungsu Han continued to show no fear on day two of the Kolon Korea Open maintaining his lead after carding a two-under-par 69 at Woo Jeong Hills Country Club.
The little-known Korean’s seven under par total and three-shot lead make light of the scale and importance of this event and the mighty challenge that the golf course presents.
His compatriot Jaekyeong Lee is in second place following a 68, while Canada’s Richard T. Lee (67), Australian Brendan Jones (69), Koreans Junghwan Lee (69) and Jeongwoo Ham (70) and Ian Snyman from South Africa (71) are in a tie for third, four behind the leader.
The KRW1,400,000,000 (approximately US$1,075,000) event is the 10th stop of the season on the Asian Tour, the jewel in the crown of Korean golf, and part of The Open Qualifying Series. The leading two players on Sunday make it through to golf’s eldest Major – being played at Royal Liverpool Golf Club next month.
Han was joint first-round leader here last year before falling away thereafter but this time round, and no doubt enlightened by that experience, he is moving in the right direction.
He may be inexperienced at this level – this is also only the fourth time he has played this tournament – but he played with conviction and confidence today fighting back after losing the lead with a bogey on 10 with birdies on 13, 16 and 17.
“It was not easy because the course was so difficult,” said Han, who led with a 66 on day one and was in the second from last group out today.
“I can’t wait to go back and rest. The score is not so important, it’s that I played well for two days. I’m feeling a little bit of pain, but I’m trying not to worry about it. I think I’ll be fine after resting.”
The Korean has won once in Japan and Korea during a 14-year professional career, and so a win for him at the weekend would be one of the biggest upsets in the 65-year history of the event.
Birdies on 16 and 17 saw Jaekyeong Lee make his late dash to the top.
He won the Matchplay event on the Korean PGA Tour this season and today showed he is equally as strong playing strokeplay.
The Korean made four birdies and a bogey and for the second day on the trot had the par four penultimate hole to thank for being pivotal.
“I recorded birdies on the 17th hole for two consecutive days,” he said.
“I was lucky in both rounds. In the first round, I chipped in for birdie. And today my approach ball hit the ball of my playing partner Miguel Tabuena. I wish I have luck in the third and final rounds as well!”
He is a two-time winner in Korea and is both focused and philosophical about the weekend.
“Victory is determined by heaven,” he said.
“The goal is to finish number one on the Korean Tour this season and earn a place in the Korn Ferry Tour Qualifying School Final. And I want to go to The Open championship, too. I have been there as a spectator thanks to The KJ Choi Foundation once. I’ll be a player this time. I will be patient tomorrow.”
Only 12 players finished under par today for two rounds – indicating the course’s level of difficulty and demanding set up.
Defending champion Minkyu Kim returned a 69 yesterday but will be disappointed with his 74 today which put him at one over, but still in the hunt.
Only seven players have successful defended this tournament since its inauguration in 1958, they are: Koreans Changsang Han, Yoonsoo Choi, Sangmoon Bae, and Kyounghoon Lee, Chinese-Taipei’s Chen Tze-ming and Americans Scott Hoch and Orville Moody, who had the distinction of winning the first three editions.
Chanmin Jung recorded a 75 to finish on six over and miss the cut by one – a disappointing week for one of Korean golf’s biggest hitters, who hit the headlines earlier this year following a shock win in the GS Caltex Maekyung Open.
Zimbabwe’s Scott Vincent had an unusually poor week adding a 73 to his first round 80 to miss the cut. Last year’s winner of the International Series Order of Merit showed his class on the last hole though, making an eagle on the par five, for a touch of inspiration ahead of his trip to LIV Golf Valderrama next week.
Scores after round 2 of the Kolon The 65th Korea Open Golf Championship being played at the par 71, 7326 Yards Woojeong Hills CC course (am – denotes amateur):
135 – Seungsu Han (USA) 66-69.
138 – Jaekyeong Lee (KOR) 70-68.
139 – Brendan Jones (AUS) 70-69, Jeongwoo Ham (KOR) 69-70, Junghwan Lee (KOR) 70-69, Ian Snyman (RSA) 68-71, Richard T. Lee (CAN) 72-67.
140 – Sungjoon Park (KOR) 69-71.
141 – Kyongjun Moon (KOR) 74-67, Junggon Hwang (KOR) 70-71, Yubin Jang (am, KOR) 71-70, Kyungnam Kang (KOR) 71-70.
142 – Atiruj Winaicharoenchai (THA) 71-71, Seunghyuk Kim (KOR) 73-69, Kevin Yuan (AUS) 73-69, S Chikkarangappa (IND) 69-73.
143 – Minkyu Kim (KOR) 69-74, Junseok Lee (AUS) 72-71, Lee Chieh-po (TPE) 69-74, Sanghyun Park (KOR) 72-71, Yongjun Bae (KOR) 73-70, Prom Meesawat (THA) 71-72.
144 – Galam Jeon (KOR) 72-72, Jiung Jeong (KOR) 71-73, Seungbin Choi (KOR) 71-73, Wonjoon Lee (AUS) 73-71, Eunshin Park (KOR) 72-72, Dongmin Lee (KOR) 73-71, Miguel Tabuena (PHI) 73-71, Dongmin Kim (KOR) 70-74, Jaco Ahlers (RSA) 73-71.
145 – Inhoi Hur (KOR) 69-76, Junsung Kim (KOR) 73-72, Ryosuke Kinoshita (JPN) 71-74, Jiho Yang (KOR) 72-73, Hanmil Jung (KOR) 72-73, Jaeho Kim (KOR) 72-73, Sanghun Shin (KOR) 73-72, Honey Baisoya (IND) 73-72.
146 – Soomin Lee (KOR) 71-75, Nicholas Fung (MAS) 75-71, Doyeob Mun (KOR) 72-74, Neil Schietekat (RSA) 72-74, Seungtaek Lee (KOR) 75-71, Kangho Cha (KOR) 71-75, Poom Saksansin (THA) 72-74, Taehoon Ok (KOR) 77-69, Mingyu Cho (KOR) 72-74, Sadom Kaewkanjana (THA) 76-70, Gyeongjun Lee (KOR) 76-70, Danthai Boonma (THA) 72-74, Dongseop Maeng (KOR) 77-69, Jinichiro Kozuma (JPN) 70-76.
147 – Minchel Choi (KOR) 78-69, Kieran Vincent (ZIM) 70-77, Scott Hend (AUS) 75-72, Hyungjoon Lee (KOR) 75-72, Junsub Park (KOR) 72-75, Sanghee Lee (KOR) 73-74, Youngjoon Choi (KOR) 73-74, Yoseop Seo (KOR) 73-74, Taeho Kim (KOR) 72-75, Doyeon Hwang (KOR) 72-75, Jaehun Jeong (KOR) 77-70, Yonggu Shin (CAN) 75-72.
148 – Taewoo Kim #1087 (KOR) 70-78, Chanmin Jung (KOR) 73-75, Seonghyeon Jeon (KOR) 78-70, Rattanon Wannasrichan (THA) 77-71, Itthipat Buranatanyarat (THA) 75-73, Hyoseop Cheon (KOR) 71-77, Bjorn Hellgren (SWE) 71-77, Ben Leong (MAS) 74-74, Pawin Ingkhapradit (THA) 74-74, Jinsung Kim #875 (KOR) 74-74, Nitithorn Thippong (THA) 79-69.
149 – Hosung Choi (KOR) 76-73, Taehee Lee (KOR) 70-79, Bio Kim (KOR) 76-73, Terry Pilkadaris (AUS) 74-75, Doohwan Bang (KOR) 73-76, Hongtaek Kim (KOR) 73-76, Seung Park (KOR) 75-74, Jaemin Hwang #859 (KOR) 74-75, Jaehyun Jung (KOR) 70-79, Jbe Kruger (RSA) 76-73, Zach Murray (AUS) 72-77, Osung Kwon (KOR) 71-78.
150 – Hyunwoo Ryu (KOR) 74-76, Viraj Madappa (IND) 74-76, Taehoon Kim (KOR) 75-75, Jinho Choi (KOR) 74-76, Minhyuk Song (am, KOR) 73-77, Berry Henson (USA) 77-73, Miguel Carballo (ARG) 77-73, S.S.P. Chawrasia (IND) 74-76.
151 – Natipong Srithong (THA) 79-72, Hoseon Chae (KOR) 75-76, Karandeep Kochhar (IND) 80-71, Woohyun Kim (KOR) 75-76, Chang Wei-lun (TPE) 76-75, Wanki Pyo (KOR) 76-75.
152 – Minjun Kim (KOR) 78-74, Kosuke Hamamoto (THA) 81-71, Tirawat Kaewsiribandit (THA) 80-72, Sungjin Noh (KOR) 74-78, Sungho Yun (KOR) 73-79, Donghyun Moon (am, KOR) 80-72, Hyunuk Kim (am, KOR) 78-74, Hyeonguk Park (KOR) 77-75, Settee Prakongvech (THA) 72-80.
153 – Ajeetesh Sandhu (IND) 77-76, Guntaek Koh (KOR) 81-72, Dongeun Kim (KOR) 78-75, Wooyoung Cho (am, KOR) 77-76, Gowoong Choi (KOR) 77-76, Micah Lauren Shin (USA) 78-75, Scott Vincent (ZIM) 80-73, Jaeyoung Koo (KOR) 76-77, Jinjae Byun (KOR) 76-77, Sungmin Cho (KOR) 80-73, Rahil Gangjee (IND) 76-77.
154 – Jongduck Kim (KOR) 77-77, Suradit Yongcharoenchai (THA) 77-77, Chan Shih-chang (TPE) 79-75, Steve Lewton (ENG) 80-74, Yunseok Kang (KOR) 76-78.
155 – Sarit Suwannarut (THA) 75-80, Bongsub Kim (KOR) 80-75, Jaehun Choi #2007 (KOR) 81-74, Sungkug Park (KOR) 75-80, Heemin Chang (KOR) 73-82.
157 – Eric Chun (KOR) 77-80, Jin Bo (am, CHN) 78-79.
158 – Taichi Kho (HKG) 80-78, Seonghyeon An (am, KOR) 80-78, Yikeun Chang (KOR) 78-80.
159 – Giwhan Kim (KOR) 79-80.
160 – Sungho Lee (am, KOR) 80-80.
162 – Youngchul Kim (am, KOR) 86-76, Simon Seungmin Lee (KOR) 80-82.
+5 (147) was the final cut, 65 players made the cut
Pavit Tangkamolprasert, Thailand – RT
Jarin Todd, USA – RT
Seukhyun Baek, Korea – WD