Seok-hyun Baek will look to ride the momentum of his first win on the Korean Professional Golf Association (KPGA) Korean Tour to a second straight victory.
Baek will compete in the KB Financial Live Championship 메이저놀이터 ($700,000) at Blackstone GC (Par 72-7270) in Icheon, Gyeonggi-do, starting Sept. 25, against a field that includes defending champion Yang Ji-ho, “the big guns” Chung Chan-min and season-opening winner Ko Gun-taek, as well as Kim Bio, Seo Yo-seop, Ham Jeong-woo, Choi Jin-ho and Lee Hyung-joon.
Baek, who immigrated to Thailand as a child to learn golf and turn pro on the Asian Tour, enjoyed his first career victory last week with a wire-to-wire win at the SK Telecom Open at Finks GC in Jeju.
“It was hard to adjust to Korean grass after being used to it in Thailand and other parts of Asia,” said Baek, who made his Korean Tour debut in 2014 and won in his second season on the tour after serving in the military from 2018-2019.
This week’s event at Blackstone GC is also on grass. Bentgrass and Kentucky Blue are different, but the ball and grass are the same, so it will be interesting to see if Seok-hyun Paik can make another breakthrough. He is ninth in the Genesis points standings, and a win would propel him into the lead over current leader Chung Chan-min.
Chung will be looking for his second win of the season at the KB Financial Live Championship. Chung tees off on the 2nd hole on the first day of the SK Telecom Open in Jeju last week. ｜Provided by KPGA
Baek will play in a group with defending champion Yang Ji-ho and last season’s two-time winner Seo Yosub in the groupings announced on Wednesday.
Yang made waves last year when he won his first title in 15 years and 133 tournaments with an iron shot on the 18th (par-5) hole of the final round after his caddie, his wife, told him to “cut it off safely” as he went for a two-on. It was one of the most memorable moments of last year’s KPGA Korean Tour.
Also of interest will be the 100-kilogram battle between Chung Chan-min, who won his first title at the 42nd GS Caltex Mae Kyung Open, and Baek Seok-hyun. Chung is averaging 325 yards with his driver this season, while Baek is at 289 yards.
Chung, who tasted the bitter taste of missing the cut in Jeju last week, will play alongside eight-time Tour winner Choi Jin-ho and 2021 event winner Moon Kyung-jun on day one.
This is the fifth edition of the tournament, all of which have been held at Blackstone GC in Icheon. Blackstone is a course that requires a precise short game with deep rough and undulating greens. Long game is a huge advantage, but you need to be accurate and sensible in the fairways to win.