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Kim Ju-hyeong becomes the youngest KPGA winner

Posted July. 13, 2020 07:57,   

Updated July. 13, 2020 07:57


Kim Ju-hyeong has become the youngest professional Korean Tour winner at 18 years and 21 days old.

The sensational teenager golfer won the open tournament at Gunsan Country Club on Sunday with a score of 16 under par, signaling the birth of a new golf star. He was two under par with three birdies and one bogey in the final four round, beating Kim Min-gyu, the runner up, by two shots. The prize is 100 million won.

Kim has replaced Lee Sang-hui, who won the 2011 NH Open at 19 years, six months and 10 days old, as the youngest winner. Including amateur golfers, Kim is the second youngest winner after Kim Dae-seop who won the 1998 Kolon Korea Open at 17 years, two months and 20 days old.

Kim also became a golfer who took the shortest time to win after becoming a member of the Korea Professional Golfers’ Association (KPGA). He won the trophy only 109 days after he joined KPGA on March 25. Kim has become the first person to replace Kim Gyeong-tae, who claimed the first victory four months and three days in 2007 after his KPGA debut.

Kim Ju-hyeong was born in Seoul in 2002 and introduced to golf at 6. With his father, golf instructor, and mother, restaurateur, Kim moved around different countries including China, Australia, the Philippines and Taiwan, which has given him the nickname, “golf nomad.” He attracted a great deal of attention as he became the second youngest golfer last year to win the Panasonic Open on the Asian Tour in India in November. He was ranked the 2,006th in the world in 2018 but quickly climbed to the 157th in late 2019 and to the 113th as of today. He won the KPGA membership after winning a global tour in March.

Kim Ju-hyeong recorded seven under-par scores with eight birdies and one bogey in the third round on Saturday but did not have a great start on Sunday. At one point, he was losing to Korean-American golfer Han Seung-su in the same group after scoring one over par on the second 5-par hole. However, he restored confidence after scoring the first birdie of the day on the ninth 5-par hole, which was followed by another birdie on the 10th 4-par hole.

It was the 15th 4-par hole that determined the victory. Kim made a birdie putt from 2.4 meters whereas Han failed to make a 2-meter par putt, which placed Kim two strokes ahead of Han. Even though Kim received a penalty after his tee shot on the 16th 4-par hole went into water, the 18-year-old successfully scored birdies, making it difficult for opponents to catch up.

Hong-Gu Kang windup@donga.com