ASIAN GOLF INDUSTRY FEDERATION

Emotional Breakthrough Win for Ok

Ok Tae-hoon triumphed in the Asian Tour’s International Series Korea. Picture by Paul Lakatos/Asian Tour.

Jeju Island, Korea: Emerging Korean star Ok Tae-hoon holed a clutch five-foot birdie putt on the last green to beat his famous compatriot Kim Bi-o by one shot and land the International Series Korea at Lotte Skyhill Country Club.

Following a fierce battle down the stretch, Ok prevailed after carding a three-under-par 68, for a tournament total of 15-under. Kim also came in with a 68. American Trevor Simsby fired a 67 for sole possession of third, one stroke further back.

It’s the first time that 23-year-old Ok has triumphed in his five-year professional career, and he was made to work right to the very end to secure it.

He started the day with a one-shot advantage and after making three birdies in a row from the 11th he held a two-shot lead and appeared on course for a comfortable victory.

However, moments after he missed 15-foot par putt on the short 17th, Kim, playing in the group ahead, holed a six-foot birdie putt on 18 to tie the lead on 14-under.

With a sudden-death play-off looking a strong possibility, Ok bravely responded by hitting a masterful third shot close before confidently holing out for a life-changing victory, which earned him a cheque for US$270,000.

“I asked my caddie on 17 if he really thought I can birdie 18 and he said: ‘Go for it’. I have learned a lot by playing in the final pairings recently. That really helped,” said Ok.

He came close to winning the Kolon Korea Open this year. Tied for the lead after the third round, he carded a disappointing 75 on the final day and finished joint sixth. He also tied for fifth in the GS Caltex Maekyung Open, all pointing to the fact a win this year was not far away.

“This win is for my father,” added a tearful Ok, whose dad passed away when he was 10 years old. When asked what his plans will be moving forward and how he will spend his winnings, he said his mother would handle that.

Pre-tournament favourite Kim said he took a lot of positives from the result, despite the narrow loss. “Actually, I wasn’t playing well coming in here, so I’m pleased to have played so well and rediscovered my game as we head into a busy second half of the year,” he said.

Kim had been looking to win his third title of the year in Korea. In May, he claimed the GS Caltex Maekyung Open for his maiden victory on the Asian Tour. The following month he won the SK Telecom Open on the Korean PGA Tour on Jeju Island, his eighth win on that circuit.

Simsby’s result is his best performance since claiming the Malaysian Open in March, 2020. “I’m excited for next year. Moving forward, we’re going to have some great events,” he said.

Korean Gang Yun-seok came in with a 66 to finish fourth, while Indian Gaganjeet Bhullar was fifth after a closing 67.

Cho Woo-young, the country’s top amateur who fired a stunning 61 on day three, signed off with a 72 to tie for seventh.

The Asian Tour travels to Japan next for The 38th Shinhan Donghae Open at Koma Country Club from September 8-11. It will mark the first time the prestigious Korean event has been played in Japan.

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