Underdog Choi Min-chel wins Korea Open

Choi Min-chel of South Korea celebrates a putt during the final round of the Korea Open Golf Championship

Seoul (AFP) – South Korean underdog Choi Min-chel claimed the first title of his career with a closing two-under par 69 to win the Korea Open Golf Championship on Sunday.

The 29-year-old finished with a total of 12-under 272 at the Woo Jeong Hills Country Club to beat compatriot and favorite Park Sang-Hyun by two shots. 

Park, 35, had won the Asian Tour’s Maekyung Open last month. But Choi managed a birdie on the final hole with a 10-foot putt, securing 300 million won ($270,000) in prize money and a trip to the Open in Carnoustie next month. 

Since turning pro Choi has made a living by offering golf lessons and competing mostly in second- and third-tier events.

Until the latest tournament, he was ranked 68th among South Korean golfers in terms of prize money. 

Choi’s father became bedridden in 2007 and his mother supported the family by working as a hospital caregiver. 

“This win goes out to my family and sponsors, who have been behind me in every step of my career. I would not have come this far without their support,” he said in comments supplied by the Asian Tour.