The preview: the 41st GS Caltex Maekyung Open

Originally part of the Asian Golf Circuit (the forerunner of the Asian Tour), it has been a mainstay of golf in Korea and has produced winners from around the world.

Australia Golf Magazine Mike Clayton’s own lifted the trophy in 1984 on one of only four occasions the tournament was held at a course other than NamSeoul Country Club.

Mark Calcavecchia was the last international winner in 2004 with local Korean players dominating for 17 years.

DEFENDING CHAMPION: In-Hoi Hur won this event in 2021 when played on the Korean Tour, with the local hitting five under par over four rounds to claim his fourth win on his home circuit with a Japan Golf Tour win also on his CV.

Last season’s Asian Tour Order of Merit winner Joohyung Kim finished second last year two strokes back.

CLASSES: For a course that has been so important in professional golf in the region NamSeoul Country Club is surprisingly difficult to find much information or reviews.

TO THE RIGHT: In-Hoi Hur won the title in 2021 when the ground was a standalone event on the Korean tour. PHOTO: Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images.

The Asian Tour website contains no details (except to note that the course is 6,430 meters long with a par of 71) and despite multiple searches it appears that the club does not have its own website. .

YouTube searches and images show a course built into a mountainous landscape with holes isolated from each other by dense trees.

The comprehensive Top 100 Golf Courses website states that the course was designed by Japanese designer Seiichi Inoue and features mostly front-to-back sloping greens.

A drastic change in winning scores around 2015 suggests that changes were made to the course at that time, with 2020 being the only time since a double-digit score under par has won.

Before that, scores were regularly between 14 and 20 below par.

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PRIZE CASH: $950,000

PLAYERS TO WATCH: As a co-sanctioned event with the Korean PGA Tour, there is, unsurprisingly, a large contingent of local players unknown to those of us outside of this country.

Adding to the difficulty this week is the fact that no international player has won the tournament since 2004.

However, several of the most consistent performers on the Asian Tour this year will be pitching in with the aim of breaking this homegrown winning streak.

Runner-up here in 2021, Joohyung Kim is among the favorites this week. PHOTO: Orange Pictures/BSR Agency/Getty Images.

Thailand Phachara Khongwatmai threatened a decisive victory for much of the season.

He’s yet to miss a cut in six starts and his last three outings have seen him finish second, T6 and squarely fourth.

The fact that he is second on the Order of Merit is a testament to his consistency and that he is clearly a good player who is improving.

Local hopes will be strongly oriented towards Joo Hyung Kim and Bio Kimranked third and fifth respectively in the Order of Merit.

Joohyung looks a particularly impressive prospect and impressed many with his win at the Singapore International earlier this year.

Bio Kim was one of Korea’s top prospects a decade ago and qualified for the PGA Tour aged just 20, but lost his card the following year.

Winner of this event at this course in 2012, he will be rightly confident going into Thursday’s opening round and it would not be surprising to see him at the end of the rankings business on Sunday.

RECORD 72 HOLES: 267 (-21, K.T. Kim2011)

PAST AUSSIE WINNERS: Mike Clayton (1984)

AUSTRALIANS ON THE GROUND: Travis Smyth, Cory Crawford, Will Heffernan, Scott Strange, Kevin Yuan, Won Joon Lee and Junseok Lee.

TV SCHEDULE*
Round 1: Thursday (Fox Sports 503 2-6 p.m.)
2nd round: Friday (Fox Sports 503 2 p.m. – 6 p.m.)
Round 3: Not televised.
Round 4: Sunday (Fox Sports 503 4 p.m. – 7 p.m.)
* AEST, check local guides

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