SEOUL: A fired-up Bae Sang-moon won the SK Telecom Open yesterday by three strokes after firing a closing round five-under 67 as a nervous Kim Dae-hyun, seeking a wire-to-wire win, struggled in the fierce winds.
Sang-moon, sealing his second OneAsia title, finished with a 22-under total of 266, three shots clear of Dae-hyun, who ended with a 73 at the Sky 72 Golf Club in Seoul after coming into the final round leading by three.
Korean legend K.J. Choi was one behind Dae-hyun after matching Sang-moon’s best-of-the-day 67 with Japan Tour star Kim Kyung-tae fourth on 13-under, one ahead of Michael Hendry of New Zealand.
Sang-moon, who became OneAsia’s first Korean champion at last year’s Korea Open, led for the first time at the eighth and held on to record his seventh strokeplay title since turning pro in 2004.
“I feel great. My putting was perfect this week. It was an intense day and I had a lot of fist-pumps, probably 10,” said Sang-moon, who has topped the Korean Tour Order of Merit for the past two years.
“Dae-Hyun is very nice and he played well this week. I feel lucky.”
Sang-moon, who also won the title in 2007 at a different venue, bogeyed hole two, but birdied the sixth to get back to within three strokes of the big-hitting Dae-hyun, leading since the first round.
Dae-hyun, bogey-free for the first two rounds, dropped a shot at the par-five 18th to complete an erratic round featuring a double-bogey, four bogeys, three birdies and an eagle.
The 22-year-old, ranked the Korean Tour’s longest hitter for the past two seasons, admitted to suffering from nerves for the first time in his career.
“I’m still a little nervous. All day I felt nervous. I’ve never felt like this. I always lose to Sang-Moon,” said Dae-hyun.
Choi, who won the title in 2003, 2005 and 2008, played with Sang-moon and Dae-hyun for the last two rounds, but the seven-time PGA Tour winner could not add to his title haul.
“The fact both Sang-Moon and Dae-Hyun played well in these conditions shows you just what special talent they are,” said Choi.
“I tried my best, played well and I have no excuses. They outplayed me and I take my hat off to them.” — AFP