The Korean edged out America’s John Young Kim to earn the only full card available this week, while seven players from the U.S. and players from Thailand, Australia, and France also finished inside the top-12 to lock up six guaranteed starts for 2019 season
In a dramatic turn of events, South Korea’s Taeho Kim managed to edge America’s John Young Kim (no relation) on the final few holes during the final round and lock up the only full card available this week after carding a 2-under 68 for a 7-under total at the PGA TOUR Series-China’s Second Global Qualifying Tournament. John Young Kim carded a 70 to join 10 others who earned full status for the Series’ first six tournaments of the 2019
season. Finishers 13-35 (and ties) all earned conditional status through the first six events.
John Young Kim was in control throughout most of the final day, even holding a three-shot lead, at 9-under, with just five holes remaining before things started to take a turn for the worse. A triple bogey on hole 14 dropped him into a share of the lead with Taeho Kim, and the duo was level going into the final hole after both players birdied No. 17. But it was a bogey on the final hole that handed the Korean the victory.
Thailand’s Somprat Rattanasuwan started the day tied for 28th but shot a 64 to move into a tie for third, alongside France’s Cyril Bouniol (68), who played on the European Tour in 2015. Kevin Yuan was the sole Australian to secure status this week after a final-round 69 placed him in a tie for fifth with the American duo of Michael Perras (69) and Sam Chien (71).
The final five exempt spots were decided by an eight-person playoff, with Korean Daejin Jeong earning the first spot after birdieing the first playoff hole. The final four players to gain their cards from the playoff were all Americans: Shotaro Ban (68), Patrick Cover (68), Chris Hickman (72), and Joseph Lane (65).
In 2018, Taeho Kim played in 10 PGA TOUR Series-China events but eventually lost his card after failing to finish in the top 50 on the Order of Merit. Now he will have many more opportunities after earning direct entry into all 14 scheduled 2019 events, a Tour that rewards the top-five Order of Merit finishers with status on the 2020 Web.com Tour.
Taeho Kim, 23, had been solid all week carding rounds of 67-68-70 and his final round was no different. After opening his day with a birdie, Kim carded 15 straight pars before picking up his second birdie, on hole 17. A par on the final hole was enough to seal the victory, and even Kim admitted there wasn’t much to it.
“I just played steady all day. I made a lot of pars. It felt like a pretty normal round and I managed to keep my cool,” said Taeho Kim. “It was actually a pretty boring round of golf, nothing out of the ordinary. The only thing I can say is I had a really great up and down on [hole] 15 to save par, which turned out to be important.”
Taeho Kim was delighted to get the victory, especially since he wasn’t even considering the chance of winning when he considered his deficit with just five holes remaining.
“I didn’t really think about winning. I was down by three shots, so there was not much I could do. I just tried to play and focus on my own game,” said Kim. “So, I’m super happy that somehow I won and get to play a full season of events. I’ve been playing well, and it’s great that I managed to keep my momentum going this week and play good golf.”
For John Young Kim it was a tough pill to swallow. The 27-year-old admits he was disappointed as he was eyeing the main prize since the start of the event.
“Second is not terrible, but I’m not really happy with the way I played this week. I came in wanting to get full status for the year so it’s definitely disappointing,” said John Young Kim, who won on the PGA TOUR Latinoamerica in 2016, in Guatemala. “I was happy with my front nine, but then the back nine came. On [hole] 14 I got a really unfortunate break, and I ended up tripling that hole. But that’s golf; sometimes it happens.”