Journeyman Kim Seung-hyuk birdied the last for a two-under-par 70 on Sunday to win OneAsia’s SK Telecom Open by a shot from Lee Tae-hee (69) and Kim Kyung-tae (71) at Sky72 Golf Club in Incheon, west of Seoul.
The 28-year-old Korean finished 11 under par around the 6,622-metre (7,241-yard) Ocean Course to claim his first professional title in a career that started in 2005.
Australian David Bransdon (69) also challenged down the stretch but had to settle for fourth place at nine under, while star attraction K.J. Choi (68) was a shot further behind.
Kim banked $195,000 from the one billion won (around U.S. $1 million) purse and moves to the top of the Order of Merit. He is the third player to claim a career-first victory on OneAsia this season following Alexander Levy at the Volvo China Open in April and Park Jun-won at the GS Caltex Maekyung Open last week.
The lead changed hands several times in a gripping final round — at one point the top four were all tied at 10 under — on a day where there were birdies aplenty, but also bogeys lurking around every corner.
Sharing the overnight lead with multiple-winner Kim Kyung-tae, Kim Seung-hyuk looked to have blown his chance with a double-bogey at the fourth, but birdies at five and seven got him back in the mix.
“I didn’t panic after the double,” he said. “There was still a lot of holes to come, so I just tried to focus on my game.”
He got nervous at the 11th, however, when a glance at the leaderboard after another birdie showed the leaderboard log jam.
“Now we were starting to run out of holes, but I told myself again that I just needed to worry about myself, not anyone else.”
One group ahead, Lee Tae-hee birdied 17 and just missed another on 18 to post a 10-under par target, while playing partner Bransdon made amends for a dropped shot at 17 with a final hole birdie to finish one behind.
Kim Kyung-tae fell away after dropping shots on 11 and 12, but back-to-back birdies on the next two — as well as a birdie and bogey on 16 and 17 — kept him in the hunt.
The Kims walked onto the 18th both needing a birdie for victory; Kyung-tae’s 20 footer slid agonisingly by, but Seung-hyuk’s nine-footer, seemingly running out of steam, found the cup.
“It was a fantastic feeling when it went in,” he said. “”Now I know I can win a golf tournament, so I can set my sights on winning more.”
As the top international finisher, Bransdon was delighted with his effort.
“If you had asked me before the week if I’d take fourth I would have grabbed it right then,” he said. “Its been a great week for me and hopefully I can build on this effort for the rest of the year.”
Other notable results included American David Oh (70) who finished in a share of ninth at five under and Australians Michael Wright (70) and Jason Scrivener (73) who were one stroke behind.
The Kiwi pair of Mark Brown (71) and Ryan Fox (70) shared 17th place at two under, while defending champion Matthew Griffin of Australia closed with a 71 to finish one behind in 24th alongside countrymen Michael Sim (71), David McKenzie (71) and Nick Cullen(73), as well as Americans Garrett Sapp (72) and Jason Kang (71).