SEOUL: Local hero K.J. Choi bids for a record fourth title at the SK Telecom Open in Seoul from today.
The tournament is the fourth leg of the OneAsia Tour that features a Korean-dominated field.
The resurgent Asian trailblazer, who is back in the world’s top-50, won here in 2003, 2005 and 2008, and starts as firm favourite for another crown at the Sky 72 Golf Club.
He is joined by big-hitting countryman Kim Dae-hyun, the winner of last week’s GS Caltex Maekyung Open, defending champion Park Sang-hyun and in-form Australian Scott Arnold, the world’s top amateur last year.
Choi is relishing his return to a happy hunting ground.
“It’s always a great feeling to be back in my home country,” he said. ”I am happy with my performance this year.
“I feel like I can be in the hunt for a win on any given week.
Choi added that he expected strong challenges from the emerging band of talented Koreans, including Dae-hyun and Kim Kyung-tae.
Defending champion Sang-hyun tipped Dae-hyun to mount a strong challenge after his outstanding display at the GS Caltex Maekyung Open.
“I think Kim Dae-hyun will be one of the favourites because he’s playing well and also because the fairways at Sky 72 are quite wide.
“He will be able to make the most of his long drives,” said Sang-hyun.
He added that his task will be much harder than last year when he triumphed by a stroke from Kim Do-hoon.
“Although it’s the first time for me,” he said.
“As defending champion, I’ll be playing alongside better players this time, so I should learn a lot from them.”
The tournament is the fourth of 11 events on the OneAsia Tour, established last year by bringing together tours from China, South Korea and Australia. – AFP