Korea’s four largest financial holding companies are the midwives of the Korean Professional Golf Association (KPGA) Korean Tour. All four financial holding companies organize men’s golf tournaments, which are less popular than women’s golf. Sponsoring players is important, but providing a field is even more helpful in revitalizing the sport.
The Woori Financial Group Championship, which ended with a five-stroke comeback victory by “Baby Bear” Lim Sung-jae (25-CJ Logistics), proved how dynamic the tournaments hosted by financial groups can be. KB Financial Group is following suit.
KB will host the KB Financial Live Championship (total prize money of KRW 700 million) at Blackstone Icheon Golf Club (par 72-7270 yards) from the 25th. The tournament was founded in 2018 and has been held every year since then, except for 2020, 메이저사이트 when it was held during the COVID-19 pandemic. The KB Financial Live Championship has a unique tradition. The reigning champion came from behind to win the title on the final day. The inaugural winner, Meng Dong-seop (36-BRIC), came from one stroke down to win, while Seo Hyung-seok (26) overcame a three-stroke deficit to lift the trophy. Moon Moon-jun (41-NH Nonghyup Bank) in 2021 and Yang Ji-ho last year also enjoyed dramatic come-from-behind victories.
Choi Kyung-joo (right) and Chung Chan-min check the direction of their ball during the first round of the KPGA Korean Tour’s SK Telecom Open at Finks GC on April 18. Photo courtesy of the KPGA
The most anticipated players are “long hitter” Chung Chan-min (24-CJ) and two-turf powerhouse Baek Seok-hyun (33-Husem). Chung leads the Genesis Points (1548) and prize money (349.92 million won) as of the 24th. After failing to make the cut at the SK Telecom Open, he could lose the lead depending on the outcome of this tournament. Armed with a powerful long game, Chung learned that “golf is about patience, not distance” when he played with ‘Legend’ Choi Kyung-ju at the SK Telecom Open. It will be interesting to see how he pays off.
Baek Seok-hyun, who drew attention with a trophy dedicated to his wife, is also challenging to win his second consecutive tournament with strong confidence. He said, “Blackstone GC is good grass, so I think I will be able to play confidently. I will try my best to win the championship to fulfill my dream of becoming a great player who consistently performs well, not a player who wins one and disappears.” Baek Seok-hyun, who became the center of attention for his ‘no-look putt’, announced his transformation by saying, “I will make my own putt with a broomstick that fits the rules.”
Seok-hyun Baek roars as he is doused with water by his teammates after winning the KPGA Korean Tour’s SK Telecom Open at Finks GC on Nov. 21. Photo courtesy of KPGA
There is also the question of whether Yang Ji-ho (34-PTC), who won his first title in 133 tournaments thanks to his wife’s recommendation to “play it safe with irons,” will defend his title. Yang, who won the title 15 years after making his Korean Tour debut, lifted the trophy on the final hole (par-5) of the final round with the sobering advice of his wife and caddie Kim Yoo-jung, creating one of the best moments of the 2022 season on the Korean Tour.