The ‘queen of domesticity’ delivers once again. Yang Ji Ho (34-PTC), playing with his wife, defended his Korean Professional Golf Association (KPGA) Korean Tour title.
Yang carded an eagle, five birdies and a bogey in the final round of the Hana Bank Invitational ($1 billion purse) at Itsumi Golf Club (Par 73-7625) in Chiba Prefecture, Japan, on Aug. 18. He finished with a 20-under-par 272. He won the KB Financial Livechampionship in May last year, an emotional victory 15 years after making his Korean Tour debut, and returned to the top of the leaderboard just over 11 months later.
The tournament was the first overseas event of the year organized by main sponsor Hana Financial Group in collaboration with the Japan Golf Tour (JGTO) to promote sports and cultural exchanges in Northeast Asia. Sixty-five JGTO stars participated in the tournament and competed against Korean Tour players.
Nakajima Keita (23), who was considered a strong favorite to win the tournament, held on for a one-stroke victory, but Yang Ji-ho, who started the tournament in a tie for third place, pulled off a thrilling upset. After two birdies in the first half to move into a share of the lead, Yang eagled the 12th to take the lead for good. Nakajima rallied with three birdies in the second half, but Yang’s veteran play was just one shot ahead as he vowed to “stop being greedy and play calmly.”
His wife, Kim Yoo-jung, was the driving force behind his victory, dragging a heavy caddie bag for four days. She also caddied for him when he won his first victory on the Korean Tour. “This is the second year I’ve been playing with my wife. She doesn’t interfere too much, but these days she looks at my putting line. I told her not to tell me first because I’m often wrong,” he laughed, adding, “There’s something psychologically relaxing about being together. It’s nice to be able to have fun on tour,” he said.
In fact, in the third round, he said, “I have some habits that come out when I’m not playing well, but after the first half, my wife told me to focus. I tried to keep the routine that we’ve been working on together, and I made three birdies in a row from the first hole of the second round, which was a nice change of pace.”
Yang, who played on the JGTO’s first and second tours for two years from 2013 and two years from 2017, secured the second seed on the Korean Tour and the JGTO with the win. He also moved up to eighth place on the Genesis money list with the 200 million won prize money.
“I was nervous because I was in the championship group. I’m happy to have won,” he said with tears in his eyes. “It was a Korean-Japanese competition, so I tried to stay focused. I played one hole at a time with the mindset of sticking to my routine rather than trying to win.” “International events are always fun. It’s also nice to play on a good course. I wish we could have more opportunities like this.” “With this win, I’m determined to find my confidence and become a three- or four-win player,” he said.먹튀검증
Jang Dong-gyu (34), who moved into a share of the lead after his thrilling hole-in-one, dropped two strokes to finish in fourth place. JGTO regular Song Young-han (32-Shinhan Financial Group) finished tied for eighth at 14-under par 278 to complete a trio of Koreans in the top 10.
JGTO’s Nakajima, who was bidding for a second straight title, had to settle for runner-up after an eagle putt on the par-5 18th hole left him without a cup. Second- and third-round leader Taihei Sato dropped five strokes on the day to finish third at 18-under 274.