Cheonan, Korea: Choi Min-chel held off the challenge of fellow-Korean Park Sang-hyun by sinking a birdie on the last hole to win the KR₩1.2 billion (about US$1.125 million) Kolon Korea Open Championship.
Walking up to the 18th green, Choi knew he could not afford to drop a shot as that would leave the door open for Park to force a three-hole play-off with him at the Woo Jeong Hills Country Club.
The 30-year-old steadied his nerves and could not contain his delight when he watched his putt from 10 feet drop into the cup for a two-stroke success.
Choi’s final round of two-under-par 69 not only confirmed him as the newest champion of his national Open but also earned him a ticket to The Open at Carnoustie next month, with the Kolon Korea Open Championship part of The Open Qualifying Series this year.
A fast-charging Park Sang-hyun had earlier mounted a late challenge when he stormed towards the finishing line with two birdies in his last four holes.
But after closing with a four-day total of 12-under-par 272 and watching Choi sign off with a winning birdie, Park settled for second place at the event.
Reflecting on his win, Choi said: “I felt very nervous, especially walking up to the 18th hole. I knew I could not afford to drop a shot there, knowing that Sang-hyun had done very well. But somehow I managed to compose myself and close with a birdie.
“This win goes out to my family and sponsors who have been behind me in every step of my career. I would not have come this far without their support. I’m really excited about going to Carnoustie and playing in my first Major! It’s like a dream come true and no words can express how delighted I am right now.”
Koreans dominated their national Open with only Americans Kevin Na and John Catlin breaking into the top-10 with their tied-fifth finish.
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