Kang Sung-hoon wins Korea Open after Kim Hyung-tae is assessed a two-shot penalty while holding a one-shot lead with two holes to play in OneAsia Tour event decided by 5-3 judges vote.
By AP FeedFoxSports
A golf tournament may be about as far from a contact sport as any athletic event you're going to find, but Sunday's finish to the Korea Open had a very boxing feel to it — a controversial finish decided by the judges.
Kang Sung-hoon won the event, but only after a dispute which erupted after Kim Hyung-tae was informed of a two-shot penalty when he lead by one shot with two holes to play.
Kim, who started the final round with a four-shot lead, argued that he never grounded his club on the 13th hole. The OneAsia Tour said he discussed the violation with tournament officials for two hours. The Korean Golf Association voted 5-3 against him.
It was an awkward ending for Kang, who closed with a 2-under 69 for a one-shot victory over Kim, Rory McIlroy (67) and two others. The four-way tie for second was the best for McIlroy since he was runner-up at the Texas Open in April.
Kim had a one-shot lead when he was notified on the 17th tee that he and playing partner Hong Soon-sang grounded their clubs in an area on the 13th deemed to be a hazard. They finished their rounds before reviewing the violation (Rule 13-4) with officials.
The two-shot penalty gave Kim a closing 77.
The OneAsia Tour said Kim left the course after the trophy presentation.
''I'm a really good friend of his so at the moment it doesn't feel great,'' Kang said. ''Even though I won the tournament, I just feel really sorry for him. I was actually out there to celebrate for him, but I don't know what to say. It's horrible.''
McIlroy is starting a stretch of three straight tournaments, the next two in Shanghai.
''I could have shot anything, absolutely anything,'' McIlroy said. ''I only missed two greens and had so many chances, but it was like the story of yesterday. I just didn't hole enough putts. ... I feel like my game is in good shape going into the next few weeks, and that's a good thing.''