Five to watch: Maekyung Open
Wednesday, 9 May 2012
OneAsia heads to Korea for the first event of a two week swing in the region.
This week the Professionals will tee up at Namseoul Golf and Country Club for The 31st GS Caltex Maekyung Open Golf Championship.
Traditionally playing in Korea has presented some challenges for the Australian players with the Korean’s shining on homesoil.
Could this be the week that we see an Australian claim the title?
Here are five players we think could play well this week.
KT Kim (KOR):
KT is the defending champion this week and is looking for his third Maekyung Open victory after claiming the title in 2007 and 2011. He is one of Korea’s rising stars and arguably their best player behind YE Yang. Together with Yang, Kim claimed a win for the International Team at The Presidents Cup over Tiger Woods and Dustin Johnson. Since then he has struggled in the bigger tournaments on the international stage having missed the cut at the Masters and finishing well back in the field at the World Golf Championship events. Back on homesoil however Kim will be very comfortable and as he demonstrated last year with his eight shot victory at this tournament he will be a force to be reckoned with.
Kim Bi-o (KOR):
Another of Korea’s top players Kim Bi-o is also sure to play well this week. Bi-o spent 2011 playing on the PGA TOUR where his best finish was a tied 11th at the Puerto Rico Open and was unfortunately not able to retain his playing rights. In 2012 he has been competing on the Nationwide Tour where he has played eight events making six cuts and finishing twice in the top 10, with his best finish being a tied fifth at the Stonebrae Championship. While things may not have gone to plan in the US for Bi-o last year he did experience his break through victory on OneAsia winning the Nanshan China Masters and will look for his second win this week.
Stephen Leaney (AUS)
This is just Leaney’s second appearance at the Maekyung Open and while his first appearance was not much to write home about with a tied 60th finishing he will be more experienced when heading back this year. Leaney has been showing signs of his past form that saw him claim four European Titles and seven PGA Tour of Australasia titles. Leaney started the OneAsia season well with a tied 6th at the Enjoy Jakarta Indonesia Open and if he putts well should do much better this week than his first time in Korea.
Rohan Blizard (AUS)
Blizard had his first professional win at the 2011 John Hughes Geely Nexus Risk Services WA Open Championship and this year will be looking to claim his break through victory on OneAsia. Blizard didn’t experience the best start to the season only making the cut by just one shot at the Enjoy Jakarta Indonesia Open but we believe his game will be suited to Korea. Course set up in Korea can be quite different to what Professional’s usually experience in other parts of the world with courses typically very tight, short and with extremely firm, fast greens. An excellent with the flat stick and a straight hitter this should play to Blizard’s advantage this week.
Ash Hall (AUS)
Since the late part of 2011 Victorian Ash Hall has been playing good consistent golf and is surely on the verge of claiming his second career title after his win at the 2009 Victorian Open. Hall finishing tied 6th at the 2011 JBWere Masters when the field contain the then world number one Luke Donald. Since then, Hall has finished tied seventh at the Adroit Insurance Group Victorian PGA Championship, 10th at the Coca-Cola Queensland PGA Championship and tied 14th at the NZ PGA Pro-Am Championship. Most significantly he has qualified for his first major after surviving a playoff with Peter Senior and Nick Cullen (also qualified) to earn one of the three Open Championship positions on offer at the Australasian International Final Qualifying. Hall has started his 2012 OneAsia season well with a tied 14th at the Indonesia Open following up with a good performance at the Volvo China Open making the cut in a field that included some of the European Tours biggest stars.