Korean Jang Leads the Way to Open Championship

Jang Dong-kyu (left),  Juvic Pagunsan (second left), Tomohiro Kondo (second right) and Kim Hyung-tae have qualified for July's Open Championship. Picture by The R&A
Jang Dong-kyu (left), Juvic Pagunsan (second left), Tomohiro Kondo (second right) and Kim Hyung-tae have qualified for July’s Open Championship. Picture by The R&A

Kasaoka, Okayama, Japan: Koreans Jang Dong-kyu and Kim Hyung-tae, Japan’s Tomohiro Kondo and Juvic Pagunsan of the Philippines secured their places in The Open Championship today after the final round of the Open Qualifying Series Japan – Mizuno Open.

Jang carded birdies on the two closing holes for a three-under-par 69 to finish on 15-under to win the event by three shots from Pagunsan. The 25-year-old will now make his first appearance in a Major championship in The Open at Royal Liverpool from July 17-20.

Jang will be joined by Pagunsan whose closing 70 was enough to clinch second place on 12-under overall. The 36-year-old won the 2011 Asian Tour Order of Merit to qualify for the 2012 Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St Annes where he finished tied for 72nd.

Jang said: “You have got to win The Open to be classed as a great golfer and I hope I can be remembered. I have never played a course like Royal Liverpool but even if I play bad I’m playing in The Open Championship which is a dream come true.

“I watched it when I was young and it was my goal to play in The Open. My dream is to win The Open. My goal is to finish in the top-10.”

Pagunsan said: “This is my second Open. I just made the cut in 2012 but I played all four days. It’s a great honour to play in The Open and I hope to have the opportunity to play well.”

The final two Open Qualifying places were taken by Kim and Kondo who finished tied on 11-under for the championship. Kim (36), a former Korean amateur champion who has played on the Japan Golf Tour since 2003, notched seven birdies and a solitary bogey on his way to a six-under 66.

Kondo followed him in with a closing 67 and the five-time winner on the Japan Golf Tour will make his third appearance in The Open after qualifying for Carnoustie in 2007 and Turnberry in 2009.

“I have heard from my heroes (YE) Yang and (KJ) Choi that Open courses are very tough,” said Kim. “I have never played before and I’m sure it will be a tough challenge but I’m really looking forward to it.”

Kondo said: “The last time I played The Open was five years ago. My golf has improved a lot since then. Today I knew I had a chance to qualify and I was able to fight through. I’m happy to have my ticket to The Open. I know The Open will mean I have to play a variety of different shots, especially around the green.”

The Mizuno Open is the fourth stage in the Open Qualifying Series which consists of 14 events in nine countries on five continents. The next event will be The Irish Open at Fota Island Resort from June 19-22.

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