Top golfers compete for money title at NH Open

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Top golfers compete for money title at NH Open

Top Korean male golfers are fighting a last-minute battle for the tour money title of the Korea Professional Golf Tour Corp. (KGT) as this season’s last tournament, the NH Open, tees off today at the Sky Valley Country Club in Yeoju, Gyeonggi.

Kim Kyung-tae, 25, is the current tour money leader, but the world No. 21 will not take part in the NH Open due to his schedule with the Japanese Golf Tour (JGTO), in which he was last year’s top earner. He’s also preparing for the PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament to earn next season’s tour card.

Among this season’s 18 KGT tournaments, Kim has only played five, but managed to finish in the top 10 in four of them, collecting 451 million won ($339,203) in the process and staying top of the earnings ranking. He won the GS Caltex Maekyung Open in May and was the runner-up in SK Telecom Open and Shinhan Donghae Open.

But with Kim out of the race, Hong Soon-sang and Park Sang-hyun will have shots to become this year’s KGT prize money winner.

Hong is currently second in the earnings list with 392 million won, while Park is third with 382 million won.

The winner of the NH Open collects 100 million won and the runner-up will collect 50 million won, meaning either Hong or Park must win the tournament in order to become the tour money champion.

The two golfers would have been in a better position if they had played well at last week’s CJ Invitational, hosted by K.J. Choi who won the inaugural event. Hong failed to make the cut for the third round while Park tied for 32nd, pocketing just 6.64 million won.

If neither of these two golfers win the NH Open, the KGT money title automatically goes to Kim who was also the 2007 KGT top money earner. The KGT previously had a rule that stated the top money earner should have played at least seven KGT events in order to win the money title, but recently abolished the rule, meaning Kim is eligible for it.

Other individual titles will be also determined after the NH Open, which runs until Sunday with 114 golfers participating.

Especially for Hong, victory at the NH Open will provide not only the tour money title, but also the MVP and the honor of most wins.

The 30-year-old is currently leading the MVP race with 3,160 points, followed by Choi Ho-sung (3,070) and Kang Kyung-nam (2,995). As the winner gets 1,000 points, both Choi and Kang will have a chance to win the MVP over Hong.

Hong and Kang will also compete for most wins, as both are tied for collecting two wins each this season.

Hong won the Subaru Classic and Munsingwear Championship, while Kang won Dongbu Promy Open and Meritz Solmoro Open. No male golfers have collected three wins in KGT since 2007.


By Joo Kyung-don [kjoo@joongang.co.kr]

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