South Korea’s Bio Kim reached nine career victories on the Korean Professional Golf (KPGA) Tour after holing out a thrilling eagle on the 72nd hole to force a playoff.
Kim defeated Hwang Jung-gon in a playoff on the final day of the KPGA Korean Tour LX Championship ($600 million in prize money) at The Heaven Country Club (Par 72) in Daebu-do, Ansan-si, Gyeonggi-do, on Wednesday.
The pair finished the fourth round with identical 21-under-par 267s, forcing a playoff on the 18th hole (par-5).
Hwang shot a 10-under 62 on the day, while Kim shot a 5-under 67.
After the first overtime session ended with both players making par, the second overtime session on the same 18th hole was cut short when Hwang’s tee shot with his driver sailed into the left OB area.
Hwang Joong-gon made bogey, and after safely dropping his tee shot into the fairway, Kim put his ball on the green in three, then eagled to seal the victory.
Kim returned to the top of the KPGA Corian Tour for the first time in a year and three months after winning the SK Telecom Open in June last year and claimed his ninth career title.
He took home 120 million won.
After sharing the lead in the first and second rounds, Kim took the lead in the third round and pulled off a wire-to-wire victory.
“It’s one of the things on my bucket list to win a wire-to-wire, but it feels like an upset win,” Kim said, “I have a lot of competitions in the second half of the year, so I’ll just enjoy the day and work hard from tomorrow. I want to get to 10 wins in my career.”
After starting the final round with a two-stroke lead, Kim looked to be slipping out of contention until the 10th hole.
Back-to-back birdies at the 11th (par-5) and 12th (par-3) turned the tide, and he dropped another shot at the 14th (par-4), but Hwang had already opened up a two-stroke lead.
It looked as if Hwang was going to win the tournament as he was unable to cut any more strokes until the 17th, but the 18th (par-5) was where the drama unfolded.
With his second shot on the 18th, Kim dropped his ball 2.5 meters short of the hole, but he managed to sink an eagle putt to extend the match. His driver paid off.
When the eagle putt went in, Gimbio roared like a champion.
“Even when I was down, I kept telling myself that it wasn’t over, that I could do it,” he said. “I thought I was down by one, but then they told me I was up by two, so I took a chance. When the eagle putt went in, I couldn’t help but cheer,” he said.
Earlier, in the first overtime, Hwang was also fortunate when his 3-wood tee shot into the OB area hit a cart path and bounced back into the fairway.
Hwang carded 10 birdies without a bogey in the fourth round for a 10-under 62, but he couldn’t get over the hump.
Hwang’s 62 was one stroke under the course record of 63 set by Seo Yosub in the first round of this event last year, but it was not recognized as a new course record because it was shot under the Preferred Rules.
With eight birdies and no bogeys, Ham Jung-woo briefly moved into sole possession of the lead, but had to settle for a one-shot third place finish (20-under 268).
Seven strokes back was Lee Tae-hee in fourth place (19-under 269), while Hangzhou Asian Games representative Jang Yubin, who became the first amateur in KPGA Korean Tour history to win back-to-back titles, shot a 4-under 68 to finish fifth (18-under 270). 먹튀검증