At Donghae Open, the famous and the new

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At Donghae Open, the famous and the new

The 26th edition of the Shinhan Donghae Open, featuring notable names like Choi Kyung-ju, Angel Cabrera and Camilo Villegas, will be held at Lakeside Country Club in Yongin, Gyeonggi, from tomorrow to Sunday.

The group draws announced by the organizers yesterday show that Choi will be grouped with Cabrera and last year’s Donghae Open winner Ryu Hyun-woo in the first two rounds of the four-round event. Villegas will be grouped with Kim Kyung-tae and Noh Seung-yul. Kim is a notable underdog entering the event, with a lot of confidence after defeating Japan’s Ryo Ishikawa in two recent events. Kim defeated Ishikawa at the Korea-Japan Professional Golf Team Match in Korea and the ANA Open in Japan earlier this month.

Choi, 40, will be looking to win his third Donghae Open after winning back-to-back titles in 2007 and 2008. Despite starting the season ranked 98th in the world and failing to win a single event this year, Choi did climb the rankings to finish the season at 43rd. He also qualified for his eighth consecutive Masters tournament, making him the only Asian golfer to achieve the feat.

Cabrera, 41, is the most notable golfer in his native Argentina. He is an accomplished veteran who won the U.S. Open in 2007 and the Masters in 2009, becoming the first Argentine to do so. He also holds the distinction of being the only Argentine golfer to have been included in the top 10 in the world rankings.

Villegas, 28, of Colombia, is the youngest of the group and won the 2010 Honda Classic - the third PGA Tour win of his career.

The three golfers arrived in Korea earlier this week.

“I’m a bit jet-lagged but I hope to recover in time to win my third Donghae Open and conclude this season on a positive note,” said Choi. “I wanted to be well-rested and managed to sleep for seven hours. I’m sure the other invitees will have a strong showing.

Cabrera and Villegas are the two invitees this year. Affectionately nicknamed “El Pato,” or “The Duck,” for his unique stride, Cabrera is ranked 46th in the world.

“Although I’m fatigued after a very long flight, I will look to put on a strong performance,” said Cabrera.

Villegas, or “Spiderman,” is the highest ranked player in the event at 28th in the world. He earned the nickname after he started using a low crouch stance to read his putts.

“It’s my first time in Korea and I like that everyone is polite. I will try my best,” said Villegas.

Aside from the big names, the Donghae Open will feature plenty of young domestic talent. Kim Dae-hyun, 22, and Bae Sang-moon, 24, are still battling for the title of KPGA’s top earner this season.

They will be grouped with Kim Bi-o. Shinhan Donghae Open is an 800 million ($698,400) event with the winner receiving 160 million won. Whether Kim or Bae ends the KPGA season as the top earner will be determined after the Donghae Open and the Korea Open, a 100 million won event.

By Jason Kim []
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