In Korea, there is a golf tournament that has passed the age of injustice. It is one of the traditional and prestigious competitions celebrating its 42nd anniversary this year.
The GS Caltex Maekyung Open Golf Championship, called the ‘Korean Masters’, is that tournament. It is a major tournament with a total prize money of 1.2 billion won (won prize money of 300 million won) and will be held at Namseoul Country Club for four days from May 4th to 7th.
The GS Caltex Maekyung Open, hosted by the Korea Golf Association (KGA), has been with Korean golf history. Despite the foreign exchange crisis and the COVID-19 crisis, the competition continued without interruption.
The reason why this tournament is called ‘Korea’s Masters’ is because it is one of the tournaments that golf fans love with a high degree of attention. Therefore, when the competition is held in May, the mind is already headed to Seongnam, Gyeonggi-do, where the Namseoul Country Club is located.
Even because of the venue’s location, which can be reached in 20 minutes by car from Gangnam Station in Seoul, the number of galleries increases every year. The gallery, which had only about 1,000 people in 1982, the first year of the competition, has grown to more than 10,000 people in 1987 and about 25,000 people in 2000. Then, around 2020, when the match was played without spectators due to Corona 19, a total of 50,000 galleries in the 4th round developed into a competition looking for a venue.
The amount of the prize money has also increased every year. The first tournament, held in April 1982, also served as the Asian Golf Circuit Tournament. It was held as a special competition with the largest prize money in Korea, 90,000 dollars (15,000 dollars for the winner). At the time, the Asian Circuit was an Asian tour that held competitions in 11 Asian countries, starting in mid-February every year and ending in Japan at the end of May.
A total of 337 players from 13 countries, including the U.S., participated in the first tournament held at the Seoul Country Club, and amateur Kim Joo-heon, a national Korean-Japanese national representative, won the championship with a 3-under-par 285 strokes, beating prominent pro players. In the second tournament, 371 golfers from 18 countries participated, increasing the number of players.
The prize money (in 1982), which was $90,000 for the first tournament, increased to $300,000 in 1989. In the aftermath of the foreign exchange crisis, the prize money was reduced once to $250,000 in 1999, and since then, the prize money has steadily increased. The prize money exceeded 500 million won in 2002, 1 billion won in 2011, and the current prize amount of 1.2 billion won in 2019.
Since the tournament was held as part of the Asian circuit, most of the early winners were foreign players. In the ninth tournament, Lee Kang-seon came from behind to win by 4 strokes at the age of 42 (the same age as this year’s Maekyung Open) and brought home the trophy. Since then, Choi Sang-ho, Park Nam-shin, Kim Jong-deok, Kang Wook-soon, etc. have created the DNA of Korean golf by winning among foreign players.
In particular, Choi Sang-ho,토스카지노 a ‘living legend’, held several titles through the GS Caltex Maekyung Open. His oldest win (50 years, 4 months and 25 days) and the record for most domestic golf wins (43 wins) came in 2005 at this tournament. In addition, in the 2017 competition, he succeeded in making a make-cut at the age of ’62 years, 4 months and 1 day’, and even held the ‘oldest cut passing record’.