By Mohammad Amin-ul Islam
DOHA (Qat): South Korea has seen a surge in golf popularity in the last one decade, but the men are yet to catch up with their women counterparts on the world scene.
Yet, 25-year-old Wang Jeung-hun left an indelible impression when became the first Asian to win the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters in 2017 and heralded a new beginning for Korean men golfers in the tournament’s 20th edition at the Doha Golf Club.
The Seoul-born golfer became third youngest player after Matteo Manassero and Seve Ballesteros to win back-to-back European Tour events, aged just 20 years and 251 days at the 2017 Commercial Bank Qatar Masters.
He defeated Joakim Lagergren and Jaco van Zyl in a playoff to become the first Asian to win a European Tour title in the Middle East, and the youngest to lift the Mother of Pearl trophy.
In the process, Wang became the second quickest to win three tournaments in his 29th official European Tour event.
The feat was only behind Tiger Woods, who took only 12 events to do it.
Wang turned professional in 2012, and played much of his early paid golf on the PGA Tour China and Asian Tour.
But Wang, whose other favourite hobby is computer games, exploded onto the global scene with two wins in as many events in 2016 — Morocco and Mauritius.
The Korean won the European Tour’s Trophée Hassan II on a sponsor exemption where he made a birdie on the second extra hole of a sudden-death playoff to defeat Nacho Elvira.
In the same year, Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year Award to establish himself as one of the rising stars from Asia.
The following week, he won again at the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open, a co-sanctioned event on the European, Sunshine and Asian Tours. He claimed a one stroke victory over Siddikur Rahman.