CHEONAN: Thai star Jazz Janewattananond famously won the Kolon Korea Open in 2019, during his four-victory season when he topped the Asian Tour Order of Merit, but apart from that, Woo Jeong Hills Country Club, the event’s regular home since 2003, has been a notoriously tough nut to crack for the best non-Koreans on the circuit.
In the two editions of the Korea Open since the Asian Tour started co-sanctioning the event again in 2018, after a hiatus since 2008 and a two-year break during the Covid-19 pandemic, only six non-Korean born players have finished in the top 10, and nine inside the top 20.
One of these players is Thailand’s Prom Meesawat — a proven winner in South Korea having claimed the SK Telecom Open at Sky 72 in Incheon back in 2006.
Prom, who finished tied 10th at Woo Jeong Hills in 2019, thinks he knows why playing in Korea is more difficult than other countries.
“To play well in Korea, especially at Woo Jeong Hills, you have to be very patient,” said Prom, who is dubbed the “Big Dolphin.”
“There are a lot of tough holes on the back nine. When the greens get firm and when it’s windy, the course plays hard compared to other courses where we play tournaments in Korea. So that’s the key for me, to be patient when playing in Korea. If yu make a mistake, you have to miss in the right spot.”
While the Shinhan Donghae Open, one of Korea’s many flagship events, has seen foreign winners such as India’s Gaganjeet Bhullar (2016), Richard T Lee of Canada (2017) and Jbe Krueger from South Africa (2019), in Woo Jeong Hills other than Jazz, one has to go all the way back to 2011 to find a non-Korean winner — American Rickie Fowler.
Is there something that makes this course more difficult to win than others?
“Yeah, I think Woo Jeong Hills doesn’t really compare to other courses in Korea. For example when we played the Ballantine’s Championship it was always cold, raining and windy. But in normal conditions, Woo Jeong Hills is, I think, the toughest course,” Prom, the two-time Asian Tour winner said.
The 37-year-old Thai has a good memory from his last visit to Woo Jeong Hills in 2019 and is feeling good about his game heading into the 2022 championship, which starts today.
“I have more confidence in my tee shots. With my putting, I have a good feeling, more comfortable with my stroke. When you hole more putts, you get more confident. I think I just need to stay in my process, just work and try to improve every part of my game,” he said.
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