Korea’s Sanghyun Park will be aiming to complete an unprecedented treble when he returns to defend his title at The 38th GS Caltex Maekyung Open Golf Championship, which will take place at the Namseoul Country Club from May 2 to 5.
Park, who turns 36 next week, shone brightly in his rookie season on the Asian Tour in 2018, capping two victories and three top-10 results to finish second on the Habitat for Humanity Standings with over half a million (US$) in earnings.
He prevailed in a thrilling four-man playoff last year to lift the trophy for the second time since the storied event was inaugurated in 1982. It was his maiden win on the region’s premier Tour as the event had returned to the Asian Tour schedule for the first time since 2009 last year.
Park, who was eventually crowned the 2018 Asian Tour Rookie of the Year, first won the Maekyung Open in 2016, also in a playoff where he defeated compatriot Soomin Lee on the second extra hole. Prior to that win, he enjoyed a runner-up finish in the 2014 edition.
Park will be part of the talented field that includes Thailand’s Prayad Marksaeng, Prom Meesawat and Poom Saksansin, as well as countryman Minchel Choi at the event, which will offer an increased prize purse of KR₩1,200,000,000 (approx. US$1,067,000) this year.
“It’s the second time I am defending my title at the Maekyung Open so I am really looking forward (to it).” – Sanghyun Park
“It’s the second time I am defending my title at the Maekyung Open so I am really looking forward (to it). I like the layout at the Namseoul Country Club and I know the course pretty well. The fairways are narrow so good tee shots are key. Greens are fast and tricky too.
“It was a pretty difficult win last year, considering the fact that I had to go to the third playoff hole. In a way, I was pretty lucky too as Junggon Hwang made a double bogey at the 18th hole, which resulted in four-way playoff,” said Park, also a one-time winner on the Japan Golf Tour in 2016.
Park’s victory at the Namseoul Country Club sparked a solid run for the talent Korean as he went on to win on his local circuit the following month. He came in second a week later at the Kolon Korea Open to earn his major debut at The Open before securing a wire-to-wire victory at the Shinhan Donghae Open in September.
“I secured my Asian Tour membership early in the season and then secured my playing rights on the European Tour at the end of the season … It has been an amazing run.” – Sanghyun Park
“Winning the Maekyung Open last year changed my plans for the rest of the season. As it came early in the season, it gave me a lot of confidence and I guess that was what led me to three wins last season.
“I secured my Asian Tour membership early in the season and then secured my playing rights on the European Tour at the end of the season, after finishing second on the Order of Merit. It has been an amazing run,” Park added.
The 38th GS Caltex Maekyung Open Golf Championship is the first of the three Asian Tour events to be played in Korea this year. The Namseoul Country Club was opened in 1971 and has been the host venue of the event since 1985 except for three occasions in 1998, 2004 and 2006.
Other players who have won the Maekyung Open more than once include Korea’s K.T. Kim (2007 and 2011), Sangho Choi (1991 and 2005) and Namsin Park (1993 and 1996).
Filipino legend Frankie Minoza and Chen Tze-chung – first player from Chinese Taipei to earn a PGA Tour card – are among the impressive list of past winners, having won the event in 1988 and 1985 respectively.