SEOUL: A confident Bae Sang-moon is hoping local knowledge will be the key at this week’s US$1mil Maekyung Open as the former champion aims for another title in his native South Korea.
The undulating Namseoul Golf and Country Club in Seoul is a potentially treacherous prospect, but Bae’s 2009 success puts the 24-year-old in a good position to add to his numerous wins on home soil.
The two-time Korea Open and SK Telecom Open winner missed the cut by one shot at last week’s Ballantine’s Championship in Icheon, South Korea, but had earlier finished second in Japan.
“Last week my putting was not very good, but I like this course,” said Sang-moon , who finished 11th last year en route to a fourth place finish on the OneAsia Order of Merit.
“Controlling the distance with your iron shots is very important to make sure you are in the right position on the green. Unusually, behind the greens is very high and the greens run back-to-front, so short with your irons is better.”
Sang-moon ’s countryman, defending champion Kim Dae-Hyun, is looking to repeat last year’s success and kick-start what has been a disappointing season so far.
Great things were expected of the 23-year-old in 2011 but he missed the cut in the Indonesia PGA Championship and China Open as his game deserted him.
“That is the way golf goes. There are times when you don’t play well. You just have to be patient and wait for form to come back,” he said.
“Playing at Namseoul will definitely be a big help to me as I have such great memories from last year.”
The Maekyung Open is the third stop of the 2011 OneAsia tour, with Australia’s Andre Stolz leading the Order of Merit after winning the Indonesia PGA Championship.
“It is a different style golf course to what most foreigners are used to, so the Korean players will have an advantage and that is why you have not seen many foreign winners of this tournament,” said Stolz, 40.
New Zealander Michael Hendry’s victory at the Indonesia Open last year secured him a third place finish on the Order of Merit and the 31-year-old is hoping extra work put in over the past few days with his coach will pay off.
“The course is playing a bit slower than last year, but it’s a tough little course and you have got to be patient with a lot of tricky shots,” he said. — AFP