Kim Bio thrilled huge home crowds to win his maiden Asian Tour title at the Maekyung Open on Sunday (May 8), coming home two strokes clear of fellow South Korean Cho Min-Gyu. After starting the final day with a four-shot cushion and still three shots clear on the 18th tee, the world No. 170 golfer had to survive a scare when he carved his drive deep into the trees.
But he coolly prevented disaster by threading a path back into play from a pile of leaves and securing a bogey five and a round of one-over 72 and a nine-under 281 total to lift the trophy for the second time.
After seven holes, Cho and Kim were level at one point, thanks to three birdies in four holes. His challenge was derailed by a bogey on the eighth and a double-bogey on the ninth.
Cho shot a one-under 70, the round of the day, to finish solo second, while Moon Kyong-jun shot a 67, the round of the day, to be a stroke further back in third.
A decade ago, Kim won the Maekyung Open at the same course as a 21-year-old when the tournament was sanctioned by the now-dead OneAsia Tour. Kim said that he tried not to think about having a four-shot lead. Thousands of golf-starved fans, who had been allowed into a tournament for only the second time since the beginning of the pandemic, roared to victory when the 31-year-old was crowned the winner.
Kim’s hiccup at the final hole was not the only drama of the week, he had to come to the rescue when an official was taken ill.
As the final group began their third round on Saturday, a university student collapsed on the first tee as Kim was about to start. A doctor who happened to be in the large crowd rushed to help before an ambulance was called and the student, Lee Woo-jun, who suffers from anemia, made a full recovery.
Kim’s win moves him to second place in the Asian Tour order of merit, US $57,000 behind American Sihwan Kim, who has amassed the US $460,000 from the six tournaments played so far. The three-over cut was missed by the Singapore golfer.