Loar holds off Els to win Korean Open
American Edward Loar showed nerves of steel to lift the US$400,000 Kolon Korean Open by three strokes after a final round one-under-par 71 on Sunday.
The left-handed Loar beat Scotsman Simon Yates, who closed with a 69 while world number three Ernie Els of South Africa was a further stroke back in third place after shooting a 75 on a blustery day at Woo Jeong Hills Country Club.
Loar, winner of the Thailand Open last year, was the only player to finish in red numbers in the Asian Tour event with his four-day aggregate of two-under-par 286. Overnight leader Terry Pilkadaris shot a 78 to share fourth place with Hendrik Buhrmann of South Africa (73) while Korea 's Kang Wook-soon came in as the best Asian in sixth place on 293.
"The second one is always better, they say, especially with Ernie Els in the field and playing with him for two rounds at the weekend," said a delighted Loar, who won US$85,543.
"Victory is always sweet and I would say this ranks above my Thailand win. We had a tough golf course this week and you had to grind it out on every hole as something big could happen. It feels pretty good."
Starting the final round one off the lead, Loar, a former US Walker Cup player, overcame three bogeys in mid-round with four birdies where picked up shots on the fifth hole which tied him for the lead early on. As his rivals wilted, Loar finished strongly with birdies on 11, 15 and 18, the last from 15-feet in front of large galleries.
"After I teed off on 17, I saw Simon was two behind. I didn't hear a big roar on 18 and I assumed Simon didn't birdie the last, so I played it safe. I think it helped playing with Ernie yesterday as it gave me the comfort level of playing with him. I think I did a pretty good job out of it," said the Texas-based Loar.
Els was in the thick of battle after an opening birdie was quickly offset with two successive bogeys. But a three-putt bogey on nine, followed by a double bogey on the par three 13th where he found water saw his title hopes dip.
The 'Big Easy' paid tribute to the winner of Korea 's 47th national Open, which is the 14th leg of the Asian Tour. "I haven't played well all weekend. I thought I hit it better today but the putter went kind of cold. But I think I lost all the momentum when I missed those little putts on 10 and 11 in the third round.
"Three putting nine today was big, it just horse-shoed out. Every time I got something going, I gave it back. But Edward played really well to shoot a 71 in the final round. It's disappointing I didn't play good," said Els.
Yates, six back at the start of the round, moved menacingly into contention with birdies on the eighth, 10th and 13th to trail Loar by one at one stage. He had chances for birdies on 16 which lipped out and then missed a seven-foot curler on 17.
"It looked like it was going in all the way on 16 and then it hit the left edge and stayed out and the one on 17 was a tricky one. But I'm real happy to play the way I did. I hit it from tee to green solidly and hit 16 greens out there. It's another good week," said the Thai based Scotsman.
Pilkadaris, who had led from the second round, hung on gamely and was still ahead of the chasing pack through 10 holes but a disastrous triple bogey seven on the 14th after he found the water hazard drowned his hopes of a first title.
Kang's search for his first Korean Open crown must wait for another year after he finished on five-over-par 293 following a closing 72. Compatriots Jang Ik-jae , Mo Joong-kyung and Ted Oh all shared seventh place on 294.
Leading Final Round Scores
286 - Edward Loar ( USA ) 73-69-73-71
289 - Simon Yates (SCO) 72-75-73-69
290 - Ernie Els (RSA) 71-69-75-75
292 - Hendrik Buhrmann (RSA) 68-74-77-73, Terry Pilkadaris (AUS) 70-69-75-78
293 - Kang Wook-soon (KOR) 76-73-72-72
294 - Jang Ik-jae (KOR) 77-75-70-72, Mo Joong-kyung (KOR) 71-73-78-72, Ted Oh (KOR) 74-71-75-74
295 - Choi Sang-ho (KOR) 71-72-79-73, Amandeep Johl (IND) 74-76-72-73, Park No-seok (KOR) 73-71-77-74
296 - Pat Giles (AUS) 76-70-77-73, Kim Felton (AUS) 74-74-74-74
297 - Richard Moir (AUS) 70-73-78-76
298 - Kim Bum-sik (KOR-am) 79-72-77-70, Choi Gwang-soo (KOR) 74-73-76-75, Charlie Wi (KOR) 77-72-73-76, Nam Young-woo (KOR) 73-74-75-76, Kang Sung-hoon [A] (KOR) 72-71-76-79
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