After first PGA win, Bae shoots for second

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After first PGA win, Bae shoots for second

Ending a brief celebratory session, Bae Sang-moon picked up his golf clubs again to compete in the Crown Plaza Invitational this weekend.

The 26-year-old Korean realized his first career goal, a PGA title, with a two-stroke win over Keegan Bradley at the Byron Nelson Championship on Sunday. Now, his second career goal - competing in a major PGA championship - is so close.

Bae’s world ranking jumped from 106th to 64th with the win at TPC Four Seasons, but he must be in the top 60 to be able to compete in the U.S. Open to be held on June 13-16.

Three events are left before the U.S. Open, including the Memorial Tournament on May 30-June 2 and the FedEx St. Jude Classic on June 6-9. According to the Financial News, a Korean paper, Bae also applied for the Memorial Tournament.

“I will put all I’ve got in this week’s event,” Bae was quoted as saying by the Financial News. “But, just in case it does not work as planned, I have applied for the Memorial Tournament to be held two weeks later.”

The Crown Plaza Invitational will have a field of 132 at the Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas, and Bae will be in a good position to make another shining performance with the top 10 players sitting out. Defending champion Zach Johnson and Jim Furyk will be among the best-known players that Bae, playing in his second year on the Tour, will face at Crown Plaza.

He will be joined by other Korean players, including Yang Yong-eun, Wi Chang-soo, Noh Seung-yul and John Huh.

Despite years of success in Asia - where he won 11 times as a professional - Bae was an obscure player even among some Koreans who are more familiar with two other PGA winners, Choi Kyoung-ju, or K.J. Choi, and Yang.

His win on Sunday, the first on the PGA Tour by an Asian since 2011, has changed that. He received a Tour card for the next two years.

His money ranking also jumped sharply. He collected $1.17 million from his first PGA win, putting his total at $1.59 million, ranking him 17th. Last week, he was ranked 108th.

By Moon Gwang-lip [joe@joonang.co.kr]

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