Kang Sung Hoon takes CJ Invitational
BY Asian Tour | 13 Oct 2013
Yeoju, Gyeonggi-do, Korea, October 13: Kang Sung-hoon of Korea fired a two-under-par 70 to cruise to a five-shot victory for his second career title since 2010 at the US$750,000 CJ Invitational Hosted by KJ Choi on Sunday.
The 26-year-old Kang defeated countryman Kim Tae-hoon (72) and India’s Jyoti Randhawa, who registered a 67 for his best score of the week, with a winning total of 12-under-par 276 at the Haesley Nine Bridges Golf Club on the outskirts of Seoul.
Current Asian Tour number one Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand, who was three shots off the lead at the start of the final round, carded a 73 to settle tie share fourth place with Jason Knutzon (69) of the United States and Baek Seuk-hyun (69) of Korea.
Kang’s lead never looked threatened after he shot four straight birdies starting from the third hole. He bogeyed holes eight and 16 but was still comfortably in charge.
He is the only other player apart from K.J. Choi to win the CJ Invitational which has been staged on the Asian Tour Schedule since 2011. Choi, who won the event in 2011 and 2012, shot a 73 to finish in tied 21st position.
“It feels like I’m dreaming. I can’t believe that I won. Maybe I’ll wake up tomorrow and the winning feeling will sink in,” smiled the 26-year-old Kang.
“To be honest I felt very comfortable after nine holes. I was looking at the scores and I saw that I had a big lead so I was able to play it safe and try to give myself chances. It has been quite a while since I last won so this is a great feeling,” said Kang.
The slightly built Korean has been playing in the United States in the last three years, including a year on the PGA Tour in 2011 where he forged a friendship with his childhood hero Choi.
“When I played on the PGA Tour, I lived very near to K.J. We had dinners together and he would give me a lot of advice. That’s why it means a lot to me that I have won this event which he is hosting,” Kang explained.
Randhawa, the 2002 Asian Tour Order of Merit leader, earned his best result since his last victory on the region’s premier Tour in 2009 after hitting six birdies against one bogey.
“Start with a bang and end with a bang but I have no idea what happened in between! I had a good ball striking day. I felt my best out there and I’ll take the positives out of this round until the end of the year,” said Randhawa, an eight-time Asian Tour winner.
Kiradech struggled with a knee injury midway through the round and was disappointed that he did not take advantage of his solid ball striking and impressive short game.
“I got off to a good start but I felt pain in my left knee during the closing stages. I couldn’t squat to read the putting lines. That’s why I struggled a lot in the last four or five holes. I even felt a bit of pain when I was swinging and that’s why I hooked two of my shots,” said the 24-year-old Kiradech.
“Anyway, it is a good result but it should have been much better than this because of the way I’ve been striking the ball this week,” he lamented.
Choi, who has successful hosted the CJ Invitational for three seasons on the Asian Tour, tipped his hat to the latest champion, Kang.
“I’m very pleased with the way the young players are playing. If more young players play well then it will boost the stature of this event as well as the golf industry in Asia. It has been a very good week and I’m proud to see a new champion win my event,” said Choi.
The leading Australian was Unho Park who tied for 13th while Matthew Stieger was next best in 21st position.