Guangzhou, China: In a dramatic late turn of events, South Korean Kim Tae-ho edged American John Young Kim after a tense finale at the PGA Tour Series-China’s Second Global Qualifying Tournament.
Tae-ho signed off with a two-under-par 68 at Foison Golf Club for a winning seven-under total to lock up the only full card available. Meanwhile, John Young carded a 70 to join 11 others who earned full status for the first six tournaments of the Series’ 2019 season. Finishers 13-35 (and ties) earned conditional status through the first six events.
John Young appeared to be in control for most of the final day, holding a three-shot lead with just five holes remaining before things took a turn for the worse. A triple-bogey on 14 dropped him into a share of the lead with Tae-ho and the duo were level going into the final hole after both players birdied 17. But it was a bogey by John Young on the final hole that handed victory to the Korean.
Thai Somprat Rattanasuwan started the final day tied for 28th but shot a 64 to move into a tie for third, alongside France’s Cyril Bouniol (68), who played on the European Tour in 2015. Kevin Yuan was the sole Australian to secure status this week after a final-round 69 placed him in a tie for fifth with the American duo of Michael Perras (69) and Sam Chien (71).
The final five exempt spots were decided by an eight-man play-off, with Korean Jeong Dae-jin earning the first place thanks to a birdie at the first play-off hole. The final four players to gain their cards from the play-off were all Americans: Shotaro Ban (68), Patrick Cover (68), Chris Hickman (72), and Joseph Lane (65).
In 2018, Kim Tae-ho played in 10 PGA Tour Series-China events but lost his card after failing to finish in the top 50 on the Order of Merit. Now he will have many more opportunities after earning direct entry into all 14 scheduled 2019 events, a Tour that rewards the top-five Order of Merit finishers with status on the 2020 Web.com Tour.
The 23-year-old Kim had been solid all week, carding rounds of 67-68-70. After opening his final round with a birdie, Kim carded 15 straight pars before picking up a second birdie on 17. A par on 18 was enough to seal the victory.
He said: “I just played steady all day. I made a lot of pars. It felt like a pretty normal round and I managed to keep my cool. It was actually a pretty boring round of golf, nothing out of the ordinary. The only thing I can say is I had a really great up and down on [hole] 15 to save par, which turned out to be important.”
He admitted that when he trailed by three strokes with five holes to go, he wasn’t even considering the chance of winning.
“I was down by three shots, so there was not much I could do. I just tried to play and focus on my own game,” he said. “So, I’m super happy that somehow I won and get to play a full season of events. I’ve been playing well, and it’s great that I managed to keep my momentum going this week and play good golf.”
For 27-year-old John Young Kim it was a tough pill to swallow.
“Second is not terrible, but I’m not really happy with the way I played this week. I came in wanting to get full status for the year so it’s definitely disappointing,” said John Young, who won on the PGA Tour Latinoamerica in 2016, in Guatemala. “I was happy with my front nine, but then the back nine came. On [hole] 14 I got a really unfortunate break, and I ended up tripling that hole. But that’s golf. Sometimes it happens.”