- Korea Open
The first Korea Open championship was held from the 11th to 14th September, 1958 on the Gurakbu course at Seoul Country Club. The club would then host and organize the event until 1966, when the Korea Golf Association took over responsibility for staging the 72-hole stroke play competition.
The 1969 US Open champion Orville Moody, who was stationed with the US Army in Korea at the time, won the inaugural Open, and he also finished ahead of the field in each of the next two editions. Moody, who didn’t turn professional until two years before his Major victory, acquired the nickname “Sarge” on the PGA Tour, thanks to his 14-year-long career in the military.
It didn’t take long for a home-grown professional to win the tournament. After victories for golfers from Taiwan and Japan between 1961 and 1963, Han Jang-sang became the first South Korean champion in 1964 and he would go on to claim another seven titles over the next eight years, a record total of eight Korean Opens that is unlikely to ever be matched.
Australia’s Michael Clayton became the next non-Asian golfer to lift the trophy in 1984 and he was followed onto the winner’s rostrum a few years later by a couple of Americans: Scott Hoch, captured two consecutive titles at Hanyang Country Club in 1990 and 1991 then Mike Cunning, who added the 1994 Korea Open to the Paraguay Open that he won earlier the same year.
The Kolon conglomerate took over sponsorship of the tournament in 1999, paving the way for a number of international golfers to be invited to participate and help boost the profile of the championship. Nick Faldo played in 2000, as did Paul Lawrie in 2001 but it was Sergio Garcia’s arrival in 2002 that really paid off as he won the last competition at Hanyang with a record score of 23-under par.
The invitation formula also worked to perfection 12 months later when the Korea Open moved to the Perry Dye-designed course at Woo Jeong Hills Country Club, where it has remained ever since. John Daly became the fourth American to hold the Korea Open trophy aloft in 2003, fending off the field by a single stroke to take the first prize.
Vijay Sing from Fiji was the next big-name professional to come out on top in 2007 and he was joined on the honours board by Ricky Fowler in 2011 after he held off Rory McIlroy, his nearest challenger, by six shots. Rory played three times in the competition and that’s the closest he ever came to victory.
Since 2018, the Korea Open is part of the Open Qualifying Series with two places available for the leading players who have not already qualified for The Open championship.
As at 2019, 19 of the 62 championships had been played on the Gurakbu course at Seoul Country Club, which no longer exists, so you will not see it listed below. Han sung, Kwanak, New Korea, Suwon and Tae Reung are also missing as they are not currently ranked in our Korean listings.
Korea Open Top 100 Leaderboard