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Impressive Kang finishes top Asian
Kang Kyung-nam eclipsed some of the biggest names in world golf to finish fifth in the US$6 million Barclays Singapore Open on Monday.
The 27-year-old Korean shot a final round 72 for a 12 under total of 272 and the honour of being the leading Asian in the continent’s "Major".
A birdie on the final hole saw him go past defending champion Ian Poulter of England into fifth place and he also finished higher than Germany’s Martin Kaymer, winner of the US PGA Championship and Masters champion Phil Mickelson, who were 10th and 37th respectively.
Kang was handed a spot in "Asia’s Major" due to his second-place ranking on the Korean Tour under a new initiative by tournament organisers to give emerging players from the region an opportunity to shoot for the million-dollar first prize.
Leading players from the Korean, Indian, China and Asean PGA Tours were given places in the expanded 204-strong field.
Kang, currently second on the Korean Tour Order of Merit following his win in last month’s Munsingwear Championship, had a poor start to the resumed fourth round on Monday but steadied the ship and finished with a flourish with his birdie on the last.
"I played well yesterday and got into a good rhythm so when I came out today I was a bit afraid that I would not find that rhythm. So immediately when I hit two bogeys and missed a short putt at the next hole, I was disappointed and lost a little bit of confidence," he said.
"But I cleared my mind and started hitting some good shots and made some pars. I know this course plays extremely hard so I had to take advantage of the opportunities. I am happy how I finished after the shaky start."
Kang has had a good season, finishing third at both the Luxehills Chengdu Open and the GS Caltex Maekyung Open on OneAsia and he currently lies 19th on the Order of Merit with winnings of US$103,530 from just four events.
Kang hopes that his high finish and handsome cheque for US$254,400 will be a springboard to future success.
"This is the biggest cheque of my career but seriously I did not have any expectations coming into the week," he said.
"I certainly did not have the expectations of finishing in the top five. Now that I have achieved a top five in such a quality tournament against great players, I have learned a great deal and when I play on Korea or Japan, I will play with a lot more confidence it will help me in the future.
"I have played in big events in Korea, but the feeling is different because it is in my home country and I feel comfortable. But to come here and to somewhere that is not home and to be surrounded by mostly foreign players and not many Korean players and to play this well it is a huge confidence boost to me."