May 02, 2019: Local hopefuls Taehee Lee and Kyeongjun Lee shared the opening round lead with Gowoong Choi and Sungho Lee after they signed for matching four-under-par 67s at The 38th GS Caltex Maekyung Open Golf Championship on Thursday.
The quartet holds a slender one-shot advantage over Yoseop Seo, who returned with a bogey-free round at the fabled Namseoul Country Club to ensure a strong local presence atop the leaderboard where 18 of the top-24 players are Koreans.
Jongduck Kim, a former winner of the Maekyung Open in 1994, was among the six players, which included two local amateurs, bunched in sixth place on 69s. The 57-year-old Korean is a nine-time winner on the local circuit and a four-time champion on the Japan Golf Tour.
Soomin Lee, who also carded a 69, was pleased to get his title bid off to a commendable start at the event, which is co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour and the Korea Golf Association. He missed out on the Maekyung Open title after losing to Sanghyun Park in a play-off three years ago.
Qualifying School graduate Poom Pattaropong of Thailand nailed three birdies in his opening six holes to grab a share of the early lead but would find himself trailing by one after adding another birdie on the 15th hole.
Poom, unfortunately, slipped further back with a triple-bogey on 16, which was the only blemish in his near-perfect round. He would bounce back by draining a 25-foot birdie putt on the last to sign for a 70 and grab a share of 12th place alongside a host of players which included countryman Phachara Khongwatmai.
Defending champion Sanghyun Park returned with a 72 to trail by five shots in tied-37th position in the KR?1,200,000,000 (approx. US$1,067,000) event, which is celebrating its 38th edition this week.
The 38th GS Caltex Maekyung Open Golf Championship is the first of the three Asian Tour events to be played in Korea this season. It has been dominated by Koreans since 2005. American Mark Calcavecchia was the last foreigner to win the tournament in 2004.
The Namseoul Country Club was opened in 1971 and has been the host venue of the GS Caltex Maekyung Open since 1982 except for five occasions in 1984, 1998, 1999, 2004 and 2006.