Australian Matthew Griffin scored the biggest win of his professional career on Sunday with a one-stroke victory at the 2012 Charity High1 Resort Open in Korea’s Gangwon-do province.
The 29-year-old Melburnian led by two overnight but held his nerve in a topsy-turvy final round for an even-par 72 that gave him a nine-under total of 278 and the winner’s cheque of around U.S. $178,000.
Kang Kyung-nam (68) and Park Sang-Hyun (71), both of Korea, pushed Griffin all the way around the hilly 6,542 metre (7,148 yard) High1 Resort Country Club course, which at 1,137 metres ( 3,730 feet) is the highest golf course in Korea.
Kim Bi-o, winner of two events on the OneAsia circuit already this year, was a shot further back with Choi Ho-sung. His hopes of an unprecedented third OneAsia title on home soil came unstuck with two wayward shots on the par-five 13th, although he salvaged bogey with a breathtaking 60-foot putt.
“I am really, really thrilled,” Griffin said after his victory. “This is what I have worked for all my life, so it is absolutely amazing to finally get there.”
Griffin, once ranked the third-best amateur in the world, was a relative latecomer to the professional ranks and only scored his first four-round victory at the romantically named South Pacific Open in New Caledonia last year.
The win here propels him up the OneAsia Order of Merit and gives him a two year exemption, but equally gives him a confidence boost to tackle Q-School on the U.S. PGA Tour at the end of the year.
“This is immense,” said Griffin, a natural left hander who plays golf right-handed. “It gives me a lot of security and it also repays the faith that my supporters and sponsors have shown in me over the years.”
He dedicated his victory to Peter Beck, a friend and mentor who caddied for him occasionally in his amateur and professional days, and who died in 2010.
Park, meanwhile, was left ruing another missed opportunity.
“Very disappointed, that’s the only thing I feel right now,” he said. “I sort of think that somehow I was meant to be second in this tournament.”
Park has held or shared the final-round lead in all three Korean OneAsia events this year, but has finished second twice and fourth once.
The tournament is the sixth leg on the OneAsia calendar and the second time it has been played in Gangwon-do, which will host the 2018 Winter Olympic games.
The round of the day and week belonged to Q-School graduate Garrett Sapp, who fired eight birdies and an eagle — as well as a bogey and double-bogey — for a 65 that propelled him to sixth place, three shots behind the winner, and the biggest payday of his career.
The next event on OneAsia is the Nanshan China Masters from October 11-14. Kim Bi-o is the defending champion.
After round 4 of the 2012 High1 Resort Open being played at the par 72, 6,542-metre (7, 148-yard) High1 Resort Country Club (a- denotes amateur):
278 – Matthew GRIFFIN (AUS) 67-70-69-72.
279 – KANG Kyung-nam (KOR) 74-70-67-68, PARK Sang-hyun (KOR) 69-71-68-71.
280 – CHOI Ho-sung (KOR) 71-68-71-70, KIM Bi-o (KOR) 72-70-67-71.
281 – Garrett SAPP (USA) 74-72-70-65, PARK Jae-kyung (KOR) 72-71-71-67, Aaron TOWNSEND (AUS) 70-69-70-72.
283 – Gareth PADDISON (NZL) 75-70-70-68.
284 – Lucas LEE (BRA) 72-72-70-70, SON Joon-eob (KOR) 72-72-70-70, David McKENZIE (AUS) 70-73-70-71, LEE Jun-seok (KOR) 70-67-73-74.
285 – LEE Jung-hwan (KOR) 70-72-72-71, CHOI Hyuk-jae (KOR) 74-70-70-71, MO Joong-kyung (KOR) 70-72-70-73, PARK Ju-hyuk (KOR) 69-72-71-73.
286 – JANG Jun-hung (KOR) 71-74-72-69, LEE Tae-hee (KOR) 72-67-75-72, Rory HIE (INA) 73-70-70-73.
287 – HAN Min-kyu (KOR) 68-71-76-72, HONG Soon-sang (KOR) 70-72-73-72, PARK Hyun-bin (KOR) 69-74-71-73, Jason KANG (USA) 66-74-73-74.
288 – KIM Ki-soo (KOR) 72-72-75-69, Jamie ARNOLD (AUS) 75-68-74-71, KIM Meen-whee (KOR) 74-69-72-73, SONG Young-hoon (KOR) 74-65-73-76.
289 – Mark BROWN (NZL) 72-74-70-73, Marcus CAIN (AUS) 72-69-74-74.
290 – Rohan BLIZARD (AUS) 70-71-78-71, KIM Dae-hyun (KOR) 73-73-73-71, Nick CULLEN (AUS) 74-71-73-72, CHO Min-geun (KOR) 69-71-76-74, KIM Bong-sub (KOR) 74-67-74-75.
291 – Ryan FOX (NZL) 71-74-74-72, KWON Tae-kyu (KOR) 68-78-70-75.
292 – SHIN Yong-jin (KOR) 71-71-72-78, HUR In-hoi (KOR) 69-73-72-78.
293 – Andrew TSCHUDIN (AUS) 75-70-78-70, CHUNG Sung-han (KOR) 72-74-76-71, PARK Jun-sub (KOR) 72-72-74-75, KIM Yeong-Su 912 (KOR) 71-71-74-77, Supravee PHATAM (THA) 74-72-78-69, KIM Do-hoon 753 (KOR) 74-72-78-69.
294 – PARK Hyo-won (KOR) 71-75-77-71, LEE Jin-won (KOR) 70-75-76-73, JUNG Ji-ho (KOR) 74-72-74-74, Brent McCULLOUGH (AUS) 72-73-75-74, MA Soo-kil (KOR) 74-70-74-76, KIM Bong-jin (KOR) 67-71-78-78, Scott ARNOLD (AUS) 70-68-77-79.
295 – JOO Heung-chol (KOR) 75-71-77-72, PARK Jun-won (KOR) 71-70-82-72, CHUNG Joon (KOR) 72-74-76-73, LEE Dong-min (KOR) 72-74-74-75, HWANG In-choon (KOR) 70-73-76-76.
296 – SEO Jeoung-min (KOR) 73-72-76-75, LEE Tae-kyu (KOR) 71-74-72-79.
297 – LEE Min-chang (KOR) 73-71-78-75, JIN Yong-gab (KOR) 74-71-76-76.
299 – Daniel FOX (AUS) 73-69-80-77, Wisut ARTJANAWAT (THA) 74-72-77-76, MAENG Dong-seop (KOR) 71-74-77-77, KIM Min-su (921) (KOR) 71-71-79-78, Kalem RICHARDSON (AUS) 76-69-74-80.
301 – Stephen DARTNALL (AUS) 72-72-76-81.
304 – HONG Sung-min (KOR) 73-72-81-78