Kim Dong-min (25-NH Nonghyup Bank) overcame a five-stroke deficit to win his first Korea Professional Golf (KPGA) Korean Tour title four years after making his debut.
Kim shot a 5-under 67 in the final round of the KPGA Korean Tour’s KB Financial Reeve Championship ($700,000) at Blackstone Golf Club (Par 72) in Icheon-si, Gyeonggi Province on Monday.
With a total of 8-under-par 280, Kim won by two strokes over runners-up Lee Jung-hwan (32, Sokchoi) and Lee Seung-taek (28, Sangsang), who finished at 6-under-par 282.
Kim, who made his KPGA Korean Tour debut in 2020, enjoyed his first victory in just his 66th tournament on the tour. Kim earned 140 million won for his victory. He finished first in Genesis Points (2,351.8) and second in prize money (238 million won).
A bronze medalist at the 2018 Jakarta Palembang Asian Games, Kim hasn’t exactly lived up to expectations as a professional.
He burst onto the scene with a runner-up finish at the Golf Zone Toray Open in November last year. He gradually improved his form with a fourth-place finish at the DB Insurance Promi Open and a runner-up finish at the Golf Zone Open last month.
Entering the final round in a tie for 10th place, five strokes behind Kim Min-kyu (22-CJ), Kim put himself in contention with four birdies on the front nine.
After a bogey on the 10th (par-4), he recovered with a birdie on the 15th (par-5) before dropping another shot on the 17th (par-4). But he roared back with a dramatic eagle on the final 18th (par-5).
After hitting his 302-yard tee shot into the fairway, he approached the green with 236 yards to spare and left his second shot five feet to the side of the hole. He sank the eagle putt and beamed.
With a one-stroke lead, Kim clinched the 안전놀이터 victory when Shin Sang-hoon (25-BC Card), who was chasing him, double-bogeyed the 17th hole. Shin lost one stroke on the day and is tied for fourth at 5-under par 283.
“I didn’t expect to win after three rounds,” Kim said after the tournament, “I saw that there wasn’t much of a gap between me and the leader after the first hole. I tried my best until the end and the win came, so I’m very happy. I was so nervous leading up to the win, but even that made me feel happy.”
Reflecting on his decisive eagle on the 18th hole, he said, “I knew I was tied for the lead after 17 and I knew I had to at least birdie the last hole to force a playoff or win the tournament.”
“I didn’t know if I wanted to hit a 2-iron or a 3-wood for my second shot, so I went with the wood and it landed close to the pin for eagle. The last putt was for eagle,” he beamed.
He credits his confidence in his driver for his improvement since last year’s Hyundai Marine Choi Kyung Joo Invitational. “I had a lot of OBs going to the right, so I practiced my driver shots intensively by myself, and now my tee shots are much better than in the first half of last year, so I feel more confident,” Kim explained.
“Now that I’ve won the title I was aiming for, I want to top the Genesis Points and win the grand prize, which will allow me to participate in the final stage of the Confederation Tour Q-School,” he concluded.
After leading through three rounds, Kim dropped four strokes on the day with four bogeys and three birdies, including one triple bogey. Kim slipped to a tie for sixth place with a total of 4-under par 284.