Kim Shows Star Credentials With Maekyung Open Triumph

Sun 06 May 2007

Kim Shows Star Credentials With Maekyung Open Triumph

Seoul, May 6: Asia heralded a new rising star when Korea's Kim Kyung-tae coasted to an emphatic five-stroke victory in the US$600,000 GS Caltex Maekyung Open on Sunday, just five months after turning professional.

The 20-year-old Kim trailed by one overnight but steamrolled past China's Liang Wen-chong with a stunning final round of five-under-par 67 at Nam Seoul Country Club to secure his maiden Asian Tour victory.

With a winning total of 18-under-par 270, Kim earned a cheque of US$129,032, which was his second victory in successive weeks following his triumph in a domestic event last weekend.

Liang, who had led since the first day, failed to keep up pace with the talented youngster on the back nine as he settled for second place with a closing 73. Korean amateur Lee Jin-myung grabbed third place on 279 after closing with a superb 65 while another amateur Kim Bi-o, veteran Choi Gwang-soo and Lee Seung-ho shared fourth place on 282.

It was always a two-horse race between Kim and Liang who turned in 35 for the Chinese star, currently second on the Asian Tour's UBS Order of Merit, to preserve his overnight advantage at the turn. But the local favourite, spurred on by the Nam Seoul crowd, drew level with a birdie on 10.

The momentum then swung dramatically in Kim's favour at the next hole, the par three 11th, when he led the tournament for the first time by two shots with a birdie while Liang bogeyed. Kim pressed on with his advantage with further birdies on 15, 16 and 18 and a dropped shot on 17 was purely academical.

Kim wrapped up his amateur career in style by winning two gold medals in the Asian Games in Doha last December and immediately turned professional when the Korean government exempted him from national service in recognition for his golfing achievements.

Leading final round scores

270 - Kim Kyung-tae (KOR) 70-66-67-67

275 - Liang Wen-chong (CHN) 64-71-67-73

279 - Lee Jin-myung [A] (KOR) 70-73-71-65

282 - Kim Bi-o [A] (KOR) 72-69-75-66, Lee Seong-Ho (KOR) 72-71-71-68, Choi Gwang-soo (KOR) 70-76-67-69

284 - Yoo Jong-gu (KOR) 68-73-74-69, Mitchell Brown (AUS) 66-73-74-71, Kang Kyung-nam (KOR) 73-67-73-71, Richard Lee (NZL) 68-75-71-70, Anthony Kang (USA) 75-69-68-72

285 - Kim Chang-yoon (KOR) 76-70-71-68, Unho Park (AUS) 74-69-73-69, Choi Sang-ho (KOR) 71-73-72-69, Hong Soon-sang (KOR) 76-72-66-71

286 - Craig Smith (WAL) 73-69-76-68, David Oh (USA) 72-71-74-69, Jin Park (KOR) 76-71-70-69, Bae Sang-moon (KOR) 71-72-71-72, Choi Joon-woo (KOR) 71-73-70-72, Lee Won-joon (AUS) 76-67-66-77

287 - Mardan Mamat (SIN) 70-73-75-69, Shin Yong-jin (KOR) 70-69-74-74, Kim Jong-duk (KOR) 75-70-68-74