Jeunghun Wang is no longer Jeunghun Who?
A dramatic playoff victory Sunday over Swede Joakim Lagergren and South African Jaco Van Zyl at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters saw the softly-spoken South Korean tag his name to a very illustrious list.
At 21 years and 144 days old, Wang became the third youngest player in European Tour history to win three events. The two gentlemen above him on the list? Italian whiz kid Matteo Manassero and a bloke so legendary he needed only one name, Seve.
Youngest players to 3 wins
• 19.6 Manassero
• 20.2 Ballesteros
• 21.4 Wang
• 21.6 Lyle
• 21.7 Garcia
• 22.1 Scott
• 22.2 Fitzpatrick
— DP World Tour (@DPWorldTour) January 29, 2017
Wang won the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie-of-the-Year award last season after his back-to-back victories at the Trophée Hassan II – also after a play-off – and the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open. As lesser events on the European Tour sandwiched between the U.S. Masters and U.S. Open, Wang’s rise went largely unnoticed in the big scheme of golfing things. But that’s all changed now as he could leapfrog as high as 39th in the OWGR, propelling him into the year’s four majors and World Golf Championship events.
“This feels really fantastic for me,” he said. “It’s really, really great. I’m so happy,” Wang said after getting up and down for a birdie four in overtime to pip Lagergren and Van Zyl.
“I just don’t want to get any pressure this year. I just want to learn from the other players. I just want to keep winning, I hope. I’ve really got a lot of confidence right now, I just want to play another tournament.”
That will be this week’s Omega Dubai Desert Classic where Tiger Woods, who doesn’t have a bad record as a youngster, is the headline act. After finishing 11th in Abu Dhabi the previous week, Wang deserves will enter Dubai will more confidence than Woods, who missed the cut at Torrey Pines in his 2017 bow, if not the same pedigree.
— DP World Tour (@DPWorldTour) January 29, 2017
Wang began the final day at Doha Golf Club with a three-shot lead but was caught on the back nine before retaking top spot on his own with a birdie on the 16th.
A bogey on the next dropped him into the play-off at 16 under and he then left a birdie putt agonisingly short at the 72nd hole to be forced into overtime.
He didn’t need a second invitation on the first visit back up the 18th, getting up and down from the back of the green for a winning birdie after an aggressive approach.
It was heartbreak for Van Zyl, who looked the favourite when he got on the green in two on the play-off hole only to three-putt for the second time on the final day. It was the South African’s fifth bridesmaid finish in his 150th European Tour event.
Lagergren is also searching for his first win after leaving himself too much to do when after tugging his second shot in the play-off into the greenside bunker.
“I was really nervous on the back nine,” Wang said. “I missed a lot of greens but my chipping was really good today so I saved everything and finally I won.
“I just wanted to try to make birdie at the last. I didn’t think about anything. I just wanted to try to make birdie.”
Mission accomplished. Roll on Dubai.
WITH THIS WIN – JEUNGHUN WANG
• His third European Tour International Schedule victory in his 29th official European Tour event.
• Moves to 436,150 points in the Race to Dubai.
• Could move to as high as 39th in the Official World Golf Ranking, from 60th.
• His first European Tour victory since the 2016 AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open.
• His third European Tour victory goes alongside his two in 2016 – Trophée Hassan II and AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open.
• This victory beats his previous best 2017 season performance of 11th in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.
• Victory comes in his debut in the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters.
• Becomes the first player to win the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters on their debut appearance since Ernie Els in 2005.
• Follows Andrew Coltart (1998 – first playing), Adam Scott (2002) and Ernie Els (2005) as players winning the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters on their first appearance.
• Aged 21 years and 144 days becomes the third youngest player in European Tour history to win their first three titles, following Matteo Manassero (19 years and 206 days) and Seve Ballesteros (20 years and 77 days).
• The first Asian player to win a European Tour title in the Middle East.
• South Korea becomes the tenth different country to win the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters.
• Becomes the 17th different winner of the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters.
• Aged 21 years and 144 days becomes the youngest winner of the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters, beating the previous record of Adam Scott, who was 21 years and 244 days in 2002.
• Playing in just his 29th official European Tour event, is the quickest player to win their first three events since Tiger Woods, who took 12 official events to win his first three European Tour titles. The quickest to win their first three official events was Tom Watson, who won his in eight appearances. To underline his achievement, Sandy Lyle took 37 events and Seve Ballesteros took 38.
• Joins Matteo Manassero, Seve Ballesteros, Sandy Lyle and Sergio Garcia as players to win their first three official European Tour events before their 22nd birthday.
• Becomes the seventh Asian player in European Tour history to win three or more titles.
• Becomes the youngest Asian player to win their first three titles, beating the previous record of Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who was 26 years and ten days in 2015.
• Becomes the 12th South Korean victory on the European Tour.
• Becomes the first Asian winner of the 2017 European Tour season.
• Joins Y E Yang with three victories as the most prolific South Korean winner in European Tour history.
• Led by three shots going into the final round. Is the first of his three European Tour titles where he has led after 54 holes.
• Becomes the fourth winner this season to lead after 54 holes.
• Extends his European Tour exemption until the end of the 2019 season.
• Gains his fourth victory as a professional.