Journeyman Park Jun-won Wins 33rd GS Caltex Maekyung Open

Seoul, Korea: Unheralded Park Jun-won fired a flawless five-under-par 67 on Sunday to win the one million won (about US$1 million) GS Caltex Maekyung Open by three shots at Namseoul Country Club on the outskirts of the Korean capital.

Park Jun-won claimed his maiden professional victory. Picture by OneAsia.
Park Jun-won claimed his maiden professional victory. Picture by OneAsia.

The 27-year-old shared the third round lead with Park Sang-hyun (70), but eased away from his namesake on the back nine to finish the tournament at 15-under-par and claim his first professional victory.

Lee Ki-sang (67) and Hwang Jung-gon (71) shared third place at nine-under, while Australian Scott Hend (72) was best of the non-Koreans with a share of fifth at seven-under.

Park only joined OneAsia the day before the tournament started, making the field through his membership of the Korean Golf Tour, where his previous best finish was joint second at their PGA Championship two years ago.

But he played like a seasoned champion all week, having shot a tournament-low 64 in the second round and matching the day’s best despite the pressure on Sunday.

“My putting was really great all week and that was the key,” he said. “I was really focused.”

Seoul-born Park started playing as a youngster with the encouragement of his parents and made the national amateur squad before turning pro in 2006. A two-year-stint of national service interrupted his career, but since being discharged he has shown little sign of the talent he displayed all week at Namseoul.

“In the winter I spent some time with Kim Kyung-tae who gave me some very good advice on how to be a better player,” said Park, referring to the two-time champion of this event and the first Korean to win the Japan Tour’s Order of Merit.

“Although I hadn’t won before, I never gave up hoping that this day would come, and this year I was determined to make it happen.”

For Park Sang-hyun, it was once again a case of always the best man and never the groom as he finished second for the third time on OneAsia after leading going into the final round. He has also previously finished finished third and fourth.

“I’m disappointed, but that’s golf,” he said. “At least I played well today and credit must go to Jun-won for a really fantastic effort.”

In a field dominated by Koreans, Hend tied for fifth (72), while New Zealander Ryan Fox, a winner on his domestic circuit last week, had a storming 68 to finish ninth and record his best-ever top-tier result.

Fellow Kiwi Gareth Paddison (73), American David Oh (71) and China’s Li Haotong (71) were the only other internationals in the top 20.

Park Jun-won earned $191,580 for Sunday’s victory and leaps to the top of the Order of Merit.

OneAsia moves across Seoul to Incheon next week for the SK Telecom Open at Sky72 Golf Club’s Ocean Course.

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