May 05, 2019: Korea’s Taehee Lee successfully retained the trophy on home soil after prevailing on the third extra hole to complete a wire-to-wire victory and claim his first Asian Tour title at The 38th GS Caltex Maekyung Open Golf Championship on Sunday.
Lee, who shared the overnight four-shot lead with Finland’s Janne Kaske, was locked in a tight battle with the Finnish throughout the day as they closed with matching even-par 71s to tie on nine-under-par 275 after the end of regulation play at the Namseoul Country Club.
It was a birdie from six feet on the 75th hole that sealed the deal for Lee as Kaske was left to rue a bad break on the 18th fairway after his drive found a divot and his second shot would end up 20 yards short of the green. Kaske eventually three-putted for a double-bogey.
Lee took home a winner’s prize purse of US$266,798, thanks to his victory in the KR?1,200,000,000 (approx. US$1,067,000) event, which is celebrating its 38th edition this week. It is his first Maekyung Open title and also his third professional victory on home soil.
The duo had made respective double-bogeys and bogeys on the first two holes of the play-off, held on the 433-yard par-four 18th hole, before officials made a rare decision to change to a relatively easier pin position on the green.
Lee got off to a quick start with two birdies in his opening four holes while Kaske reeled in four straight pars. Kaske sank his first birdie of the day on fifth to move within one before turning the table around on the seventh after holing an amazing second shot from 120 yards out for an eagle-two.
It was a three-shot swing for Kaske as he took over the two-shot lead from Lee, who dropped a shot on the same hole. Kaske would go on to drop a shot on the ninth but recovered well with a birdie on 12 after knocking his second shot from the right rough to about two-feet.
However, another bogey on the 14th saw him slip back into a share of lead again with Lee, who chipped in for birdie on the par-five hole. The duo went neck and neck coming down the stretch, both dropping shots on 16 and 17.
An errant drive from Kaske on the 72nd hole saw his second shot from the fairway bunker land just short right of the green. His chip from the fringe came up about 18 feet short the hole on this extremely difficult green. However, Kaske held his nerves and made that clutch putt to ensure his place in the sudden play-off.
Korea’s Daehyun Kim returned with the day’s best score of a 65 to take third place on 276 while last year’s winner Sanghyun Park settled three shots back in fourth following a second consecutive 69 at the storied event.
Thai star Prom Meesawat battled to a 68 to take seventh place on 280 while compatriot Phachara Khongwatmai improved his tied-12th finish last year by signing for a 73 to settle a further shot back in joint-eighth at the event, co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour and the Korea Golf Association.