Chanmin Jung. Asian Tour

Chanmin Jung, a strapping big-hitter appropriately known as the “Korean Hulk”, came close to matching the 22-year-old course record at Namseoul Country Club in the Maekyung Open today after taking the lead with a stunning eight-under-par 63.

The eye-catching performance gave him the first-round lead in the Asian Tour’s first visit of the year to Korea and was just two shy of the record set by Chinese-Taipei’s Chung Chun-hsing in 2001.

His countryman Kyongjun Moon, the winner here in 2015, ended the day in second after a 65 while Argentina’s Miguel Carballo also made relatively light work of the famous Namseoul track shooting a 66.

Defending champion Bio Kim from Korea was in a group of seven players tied for fourth after 67s.

Jung, just 23 and playing in what is one the nation’s most prestigious events for the first time as a professional, finished in a blaze of glory by eagling the par-five ninth, having started his round on 10. He hit a seven iron over 200 yards to seven feet to make a three, having earlier carded seven birdies and a bogey.

“It’s a good day. It ended unexpectedly well, I am surprised,” said the Korean, a professional for three years, having been part of Korea’s national amateur team.

“The green speed certainly wasn’t slow, I was nervous over the putts and had to be careful. Fortunately, the putter and shot making were working well today.”

He is looking for his first good result on Tour.

“The goal is to win. When I was an amateur, I felt that it was more about how you played and not just the result. After turning professional, I learned it is more about the result.”

Moon birdied four of the last five holes to make a fine start to an event that means so much to him.

“I have amazing memories of my win here in 2015, and always enjoy coming back to Namseoul,” he said. “It was nice to finish well.”

Veteran Carballo, aged 44, is relishing being among the frontrunners, having missed five out of eight cuts this season, although he played well in the International Series Qatar in February when he tied for eighth.

“I played solid, very, very good today. The putter was working on the back nine. I hit it close all day, so just had short putts,” said the Argentine, who is no stranger to success on the Asian Tour having won the Indonesian Open in 2019, the year he also claimed the second of his Asian Development Tour titles.

“It’s my first time here. It’s a long course for walking. You have to find the fairway with your driver here, it’s the most important thing. And the greens are difficult, they are fast,” he added.