Park wins 14th trophy, surpasses $5 billion in career earnings

Park Sang-hyun, who made his debut on the Korean Professional Golf Association (KPGA) Korean Tour in 2005 and is now in his 19th year, is steady and strong. Born in April 1983, he is 40 years old, but he is still the star of the Korean Tour.

Park Sang-hyun poses for the camera with the trophy after winning the Genesis Championship on the Korea Professional Golf (KPGA) Korean Tour on Oct. 15. [Courtesy of KPGA Korean Tour].토토사이트
Come-from-behind win in overtime
The Korean Tour Genesis Championship (KRW 1.5 billion in prize money), held on Oct. 15 at Jack Nicklaus Golf Club Korea in Yeonsu-gu, Incheon, was a testament to the ageless power of Park Sang-hyun. Park began the fourth round in third place, two shots behind leader Im Sung-jae, who plays on the United States Professional Golf (PGA) Tour. He then shaved four strokes off his deficit with seven birdies and three bogeys to tie with Lim and 2021 Korean Tour Rookie of the Year Bae Yong-jun in a playoff for the top spot.

While Lim was the first to go after making par on the 18th (par-5) hole, Park sank a thrilling eagle on the second to beat Bae, who had to settle for par, and claim the 300 million won prize. It was his 12th career victory on the Korean Tour and his second on the Japan Tour, giving him 14 trophies in his professional career.

Park joined the Korean Tour in June 2006, his second year on the tour, after competing in the Kumho Asian Open, and returned during the 2008 season to earn his first career victory at the SK Telecom Open the following year. In 2014, while competing on the Japan Tour, he picked up two wins in Korea, including the Weiner-Pine Ridge Open, and won the Deokchun Award (lowest hitting player) and the Stay True Award, which is given to the most emotional player on the Korean Tour that year. In 2016, he topped the season-ending JT Cup to record his first win in three years on the Japan Tour.

His best year came in 2018. He won three tournaments – the GS Caltex Mae Kyung Open in May, the Hana Bank Invitational in June, and the Shinhan Donghae Open in September – and earned KRW 709.6 million in prize money, ushering in the Korean Tour’s first-ever “KRW 700 million prize money era” and ranking first in stroke average for the second time. He finished second on the Asian Tour money list and won the Asian Tour Rookie of the Year award. In 2019, he played on four tours: the Korean Tour, Japan Tour, Asian Tour, and DP World Tour. In addition to his two wins on the Japan Tour at the Fujisankei Classic, he tied for 16th at the 2020 U.S. PGA Tour Major, The Open.

In 2021, Park topped the Korean Tour’s Woosung General Construction Aramir CC Busan Gyeongnam Open and the DGB Financial Group Irvine Open, and last year, he finished in the top 10 four times in 12 events, including winning the DB Insurance Promi Open, the Korean Tour’s opening event, while competing on the Japan Tour.

The runner-up at the DB Insurance Promi Open, the opening event of the 2023 season, Park Sang-hyun won his first Genesis Championship, beating ‘world-class’ Im Sung-jae, while juggling the Asian and Korean Tours.

The Korean Tour’s career earnings leader, who ushered in the Korean Tour’s 700 million won era in 2018, added another 300 million won to his trophy haul just one year and five months later, bringing his total earnings to 5,048.6 million won. This is the first time in Korean men’s golf history that the total prize money has surpassed the 5 billion won mark.

Making amends in 2021
After winning the Genesis Championship, Park said, “In 2018, I was the money winner on the Korean Tour, but I only played eight tournaments because I was playing other tours, so I didn’t get the grand prize,” adding, “I’ve tried everything, including being the money winner and having the best scoring average. I really want to win the grand prize,” he said. “I will give up the remaining Asian Tour tournaments and go all-in on the Korean Tour until the end of the year,” he said.

As he said, Park Sang-hyun is a representative of the Korean Tour, but he has never been able to win the season’s MVP award. Especially in 2021. Heading into the season finale, the LG Signature Players Championship, Park was leading the standings with 295 points, but fell just one stroke short and was upset by Kim Joo-hyung at the last minute. He had a birdie opportunity on the 18th hole (par-4), but his 4-meter putt sailed just wide and he missed a chance to take the top spot on his own. A birdie on the final hole by Park Eun-shin of the second group would have allowed Kim to move into a tie for second place and claim the top prize, but it was not to be. Kim’s final target score of 5540.56 points was just 5.54 points behind Park.

As the 2023 Korean Tour comes to a close, only three tournaments remain, including the Baeksong Holdings-ASIAADCC Busan Open, which begins on October 26. Park added 1300 points for his win at the Genesis Championship to move into fourth place on the Order of Merit (4138 points). He will need to catch up to the top three players – Ham Jeong-woo (4861 points), Lee Jung-hwan (4756 points) and Ko Goon-taek (4560 points) – to win the coveted prize. Park and Ham are separated by 723 points.

For the Korean Tour Grand Prize, points are awarded to everyone from the top of the standings to those who miss the cut, depending on the tier of the tournament, and then summed up. The other three tournaments are all three-tiered, meaning a win is worth 1000 points, a second place finish is worth 600 points, and a third place finish is worth 520 points. Tenth place is worth 280 points, 60th is worth 10 points, and missing the cut is worth 5 points. If it’s a close race, there’s a good chance that the grand prize will be crowned at the final event of the year.

If winning the grand prize is what he wants to accomplish in the remaining tournaments this season, 40-year-old Park has bigger dreams. “If I take good care of my body, I will be able to compete with younger players until I’m in my mid-40s,” he said, “and I want to build a career prize money record that won’t be broken for 10 years after I retire.”

Park, who has been sponsored by Dong-A Pharmaceuticals since 2015 and wears the “Parks” logo on his cap, is nicknamed “Uncle Parks” and “Big Brother Parks. It’s a fitting nickname for his age-defying performance and his desire to stand at the top once again. As the 2023 Korean Tour draws to a close, it will be interesting to see if Park’s dreams of winning the title will come true, or if he will fall short once again.

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