Aucklander’s first win in five years as a pro at Taranaki Open

A string of one-putts on the final eight holes catapulted Joonsang Chung to victory in the Taranaki Open at Ngamotu in New Plymouth.

Chung, from Auckland, had started the final round of tournament, sponsored by the Taranaki-based Augusta Funds Management, four shots in arrears of the leader Kieran Muir.

But a disappointing final round by Muir and Chung’s red-hot putter in the closing stages changed everything.

Chung ended up in a close tussle with Korean professional Woonchul Na and it was three-putt on the 10th hole that proved a timely reminder that he needed to sharpen up his game on the green.

“After a three putt on the 10th, I needed to switch on and I did just that,’’ Chung said.

``So I’m pretty pleased with how I putted coming home and for grinding it out.

“We (Na and Chung) were both playing well so it made us forget about what was going on behind. To then hear on the sixth hole that I was tied for the lead was a bit of a shock.’'

Chung went on to score a four-under par 68 which was the best final round of the day, a good effort considering the blustery conditions. Na had the equal second-best final round of 69 and finished the tournament two shots behind Chung.

The win was Chung’s first in five years as a professional.

 Taranaki Open Winner Joonsang Chung. PHOTO: NZ GOLF

Taranaki Open Winner Joonsang Chung. PHOTO: NZ GOLF

“It’s quite surreal,’’ Chung said afterwards.

``I have always been the one watching on the sidelines so to be here after 72 holes is amazing. I simply don’t know what to say to be honest.”

Chung, 29, had a four-year break from the game due to bad form. However, he said it was the inspiration from fellow New Zealand professionals Danny Lee and Michael Hendry that motivated him to get back into golf for a living.

“I struggled with my game for a while so I took a break throughout 2007 to 2010 and it was the performances of Danny Lee and Michael Hendry that got me back out playing again.

“I have been on the circuit for five years now, so it’s been a long time coming. The best part is no one knows who I am, I am the unknown,” Chung said with a grin.

“I have been considering overseas tour schools and this has certainly given me more confidence as I look towards the next chapter in my golf career.”