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Choi Kyoung-ju becomes oldest winner on S. Korean golf tour on 54th birthday

May 19, 2024 - 20:13 By Yonhap
South Korean golfer Choi Kyoung-ju acknowledges the crowd after holing out during the final round of the SK Telecom Open on the KPGA Tour at Pinx Golf Club in Seogwipo, Jeju, on Sunday, in this photo provided by the KPGA. (Yonhap)

South Korean veteran golfer Choi Kyoung-ju made history on his 54th birthday Sunday, becoming the oldest winner on the domestic men's tour.

Choi defeated Park Sang-hyun on the second playoff hole to capture the SK Telecom Open title on the KPGA Tour at Pinx Golf Club in Seogwipo on the southern island of Jeju.

The two had finished 72 holes tied at three-under 281 on the par-71 course, and Choi clinched the historic title with a par on the second playoff hole, where Park made bogey.

At 54, Choi became the oldest champion in KPGA history. Choi Sang-ho had the previous mark after winning the KT&G Maekyung Open in 2005 at 50 years, four months and 25 days old.

Choi took home 260 million won ($191,810) in winner's check. It was Choi's 17th career KPGA win and his fourth at the SK Telecom Open.

Choi is the all-time South Korean leader with eight career wins on the US PGA Tour, where he has been known as K.J. Choi. He has been playing on the senior circuit, the PGA Tour Champions, since turning 50 and has one career victory there.

Choi started the final round with a five-stroke lead but had two bogeys over his first seven holes.

But Choi regained a four-stroke lead with birdies at the ninth and the 11th.

Consecutive bogeys at the 12th and 13th left the door open for Park, who got to within one of Choi with a birdie at the 15th.

Park missed the green at the 18th and finished his day with a par.

Choi saved par at the 17th after putting his tee shot in a greenside bunker but made bogey at the 18th hole to drop into a playoff with Park.

The two went back to the 18th hole to begin the playoff. Choi sent his second shot short of the green, but in a fortuitous bounce, the ball had nestled on a small, island-like area surrounded by rocks, instead of falling into water hazard and forcing Choi to take a penalty.

Choi punched the ball out onto the green and saved par, and the players returned to the 18th tee after Park also made par.

On their second go at the 18th hole, Choi made his par putt from about 3 feet out to clinch the title, after Park had missed his. (Yonhap)