31 May 2024

Hongtaek Kim converts simulator success to on-course victory at the GS Caltex Maekyung Open.

Korea’s Hongtaek Kim broke through with his first Asian Tour win.

Korean Hongtaek Kim showed he is just as good on the golf course as he is playing simulator golf when he beat Thailand’s Chonlatit Chuenboonngam in a sudden- death play-off to win the GS Caltex Maekyung Open at Namseoul Country Club. A star on the golf simulator GTour circuit in Korea, the “King of the Screen” (as he is nicknamed for his 12 wins) drained a knee-knocking four-foot par putt on the first extra hole to claim one of Korea’s most coveted titles.

The pair finished tied in regulation play on 10-under after Kim, who started the day three behind overnight leader Junghwan Lee from Korea, stormed through on the back nine with three birdies in a row.

Nicknamed King of the Screen, Hongtaek Kim was able to bring his prowess on Korea’s golf simulator GTour to the golf course.

Chonlatit, who was bidding to become the first foreigner to win the event since American Mark Calcavecchia in 2004, courageously  holed par-save putts on 17 and 18, both from about eight feet, to force the 43rd staging of the event into overtime.

“There was a misunderstanding that I was only good at simulator golf. I solved the misunderstanding today,” the 30-year-old Kim joked. “I think simulator golf has actually been very helpful. Competing in championships in simulator golf has helped relieve tension.”

Kim earned a creditable US$221,241 for his victory at the GS Caltex Maekyung Open.

He earned a cheque for US$221,231 for his first victory on the Asian Tour and third on the Korean PGA Tour, plus he joins an elite list of Korean golfers who won this title, including Bio Kim, Sanghyun Park, Sangho Cho, and Jongduck Kim.

Chonlatit, who led at the halfway mark following a stunning 62 – the lowest round of the week – was also trying to become the first Thai to have his name inscribed on the trophy. “It was very hard today,” said the 25-year-old of the challenging conditions in the final round while trying to win for the first time on the Asian Tour. “Everything was hard, I was constantly trying to keep my grips dry, but I’m still very happy with the tournament. I had some good luck in the other rounds holing out shots and chips.”

Canadian Richard T. Lee closed with a 71 to finish in third place, two short of the play-off. Junghwan Lee shot a 75 and finished in a tie for fourth with countrymen Yang Jubin and Taehoon Ok, who both carded 68s.