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The great eight - Will we see another Korean winner this week?

The great eight - Will we see another Korean winner this week?

The DP World Tour returns to Korea this week for the first time in ten years as the inaugural Korea Championship Presented by Genesis takes place at Jack Nicklaus Golf Club in Incheon.

Over the past 20 years, eight Korean winners have lifted 12 trophies at DP World Tour events but we have not yet seen a Korean player triumph on home soil. 

Here, we look at the eight men from South Korea who have written their chapter in the DP World Tour history books.

KJ Choi - 2003 Linde German Masters 

Perhaps the most famous of them all, Choi was the first player from the peninsula to truly make a global impact in men's golf. After establishing himself as a star on his home continent, he earned a PGA TOUR card in 1999 and claimed two wins on that circuit in 2002 before winning his only DP World Tour title in Cologne. He was remarkably three shots off the lead after 36 holes despite an opening 63 but he led by one heading into the final day. Three other players would hold a share of the lead on Sunday but Choi held his nerve to card a closing 67 and finish at 26 under, two clear of Miguel Ángel Jiménez. He would enjoy more success across the Atlantic, winning six further titles on the PGA TOUR - including THE PLAYERS in 2011 - while playing in three Presidents Cups and reaching fifth in the Official World Golf Ranking.

KJ Choi

Charlie Wi - 2006 Maybank Malaysian Open 

Wi's victory in Kuala Lumpur may have proven to be his only win on the DP World Tour and last as a professional but it certainly did not spell the end of a fascinating career. Born in Seoul but having moved to the United States as a boy, he was a standout player at the University of California at Berkeley but headed back east after entering the paid ranks. He had already won six times on the Asian Tour with two further victories in his homeland when he arrived in Malaysia but had also already played a full season on the DP World Tour in 2003. Storms forced the event to be reduced to 54 holes and Wi was three shots back after 36 of them after carding opening rounds of 66-68. He then recorded a brilliant, blemish-free closing 63 to get to 19 under, with his birdie on the last proving the difference in a one-stroke victory over Thongchai Jaidee. Wi would go on to earn his PGA TOUR card at the Qualifying School later in the year and would be a regular on that circuit for the best part of the next decade.

Charlie Wi

YE Yang - 2007 HSBC Champions, 2009 US PGA Championship, 2010 Volvo China Open 

The man who made history by becoming Asia's first male Major Champion was Korea's third winner on the DP World Tour at the opening event of the 2007 season in China. Despite already being a winner on the Asian Tour with four wins in Japan, he was still a relative unknown at Shehshan International Golf Club when he held off the challenge of Tiger Woods to lift the trophy. Woods was looking for a seventh successive stroke play victory but Yang's consistency in carding rounds of 66-72-67-69 saw him a claim a two-shot victory at 14 under. Just under three years later at Hazeltine National, it was Woods left in second again but this time it was Yang who did the chasing, with Woods seeing his perfect record of 14 wins from 14 54-hole leads in Majors ended. After seeing Woods' two-shot advantage evaporate by the turn, Yang eagled the 14th to take the lead and held his nerve down the stretch to make history. In less than 12 months he would be a three-time winner with a two-shot triumph at the Volvo China Open and his position as the only Korean with a hat-trick of victories would last for seven years.

YE Yang

Noh Seung-yul - 2010 Maybank Malaysian Open 

Teenager Noh became the youngest professional in history to win a DP World Tour event when he edged out compatriot Choi to claim the Maybank Malaysian Open following a dramatic finale at Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club. At 18 years and 281 days, Noh beat the record for youngest professional winner - previously set by Dale Hayes in 1971 - by nine days. Victory was secured with a four-foot birdie putt on the 18th green to card a four under par 68 after a superb chip shot from the edge of the practice putting green behind a hospitality marquee. Noh's one-shot win at 14 under would help him top the Asian Tour Order of Merit in 2010 and 12 months later he would gain a PGA TOUR card via the Qualifying School, going on to win the Zurich Classic of New Orleans in 2014.

Noh Seung-yul

Jin Jeong - 2013 ISPS HANDA Perth International

Jeong enjoyed a stellar amateur career, winning The Amateur Championship in 2010 and later that year finishing in the top 15 to be Low Amateur at The Open Championship, while also having two spells as the world's top player outside the paid ranks. He made it on Tour in 2013 through the PGA Tour of Australasia's Tier 2 Money List but had already come through the first stage of the Qualifying School for the following season when he arrived at the ISPS HANDA Perth International in October. He entered the final round a shot off the lead and an opening double-bogey looked to have dented his chances but he posted a 69 to get into a play-off with Ross Fisher. On their first return trip down the 18th Fisher caught a flyer with his approach and went through the green, leaving Jeong two putts to sew up the title. A hip injury saw him shut down his season in 2015 and while he played a full campaign in 2016, he has featured in just nine ranking events worldwide since.

Jin Jeong

Byeong-hun An - 2015 BMW PGA Championship 

An made history in 2009 as he became the youngest player ever to win the U.S. Amateur and, after turning professional and spending three seasons on the European Challenge Tour, he was doing it again six years later. His maiden DP World Tour victory at the flagship BMW PGA Championship saw him finish at 21 under to beat the previous record winning score by two shots. He carded a closing 65 to finish six shots ahead of veterans Miguel Angel Jiménez and Thongchai Jaidee and in the process become just the second player to win the event in their rookie season. He was off the pace after an opening 71 but followed that with a 64 to get within one of the lead and was in a share after 54 holes before his big finish. He won the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year Award in 2015 and has since become a regular on the PGA TOUR, making his Presidents Cup debut in 2019 when he was handed a Captain's Pick by Ernie Els.

Byeong-hun An

Soomin Lee - 2016 Shenzhen International 

Lee had won twice on the Korean Tour - once as an amateur - before his arrival at the 2016 Maybank Championship Malaysia, where he went into the final round with a three-shot lead but made two double-bogeys in his last three holes to finish in a share of second. He would only have to wait two months for a victory, however, as he claimed a wire-to-wire triumph at the Shenzhen International. Lee, Alexander Levy, Lee Slattery, Joost Luiten, Brandon Stone and Scott Hend all had a chance to take the crown, with just one shot separating the six players as the weather-delayed event came down to a day-five shootout. The then 22-year-old began the day in a share of top spot with five holes to play and a birdie on the 16th followed by an eagle on the next helped him sign for a closing 71 and get to 16 under. That gave him a two-shot victory over Luiten and Stone in just his sixth DP World Tour start. He lost his card in 2018 and while he won the KPGA Open on the Korean Tour in 2020, he did not play at all worldwide in 2021 or 2022 before making his comeback on his home tour this season. His appearance this week is his first on the DP World Tour since the 2019 Scandinavian Invitation.

Soomin Lee

Jeunghun Wang - 2016 Trophée Hassan II, 2016 AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open, 2017 Commercial Bank Qatar Masters 

Wang burst onto the scene in 2016 when he became the first Asian player to win in back-to-back weeks on the DP World Tour. The then 20-year-old arrived at the Trophée Hassan II having won the inaugural event on the PGA TOUR China in 2014 but had no status on the DP World Tour and was playing on an invite. After a testing week for the field in Morocco, he finished at five under alongside Nacho Elvira. The Spaniard looked to be in control of the first extra hole when he reached the par five 18th in two, but Wang made a 50-foot birdie effort and then converted from 20 feet for a winning gain when the pair replayed the hole to take the title. There was more late drama just seven days later at the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open as Wang stood on the 16th tee three shots behind Siddikur Rahman but the Bangladeshi dropped three shots in two holes and Wang birdied the last to become the first back-to-back winner since Rory McIlroy in 2014. Those two victories assured the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year Award would head to Korea for the second season in a row and made it three wins in four events for the nation. Early in the next campaign at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters, Wang began the final day three shots ahead but was reeled in by Joakim Lagergren and Jaco Van Zyl before getting up and down for a winning birdie on the first trip back up the 18th. He needed a stunning late season resurgence to keep his card in 2019 but - after not featuring for over two years as he did his military service in Korea - he is currently 41st (check on Monday) in the Race to Dubai Rankings in Partnership with Rolex and in the field this week.

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