Ballantine‘s Championship tees off today
The Ballantine’s Championship has returned to Korea.
The only European Tour event staged in Korea, following the maiden tournament in 2008 will tee off Thursday at the Blackstone Golf Club in Icheon, Gyeonggi Province.
Even though Lee Westwood of England, who defeated Miguel Angel Jimenez of Spain by a single shot to win last year’s tournament, will not return to defend his title due to personal reasons the field still has several high-profile golfers. Englishman Ian Poulter, Australian Adam Scott and reigning British Open champion Darren Clarke of Northern Ireland will all compete.
Poulter, who failed to make the cut at last year’s event, has been playing well on the U.S. Tour after finishing third at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and seventh at the Masters and.
“I would like to take the good form on to the golf course and be able to have a chance to win this golf tournament. You know, I think to be here, to represent Ballantine’s this week, they have done a great job and I’m very happy to be here,” Poulter, an 11-time European Tour winner, said at a media briefing on Tuesday.
“For me, it is an important week to keep my form coming out of the Masters and heading into the rest of the season. I have come over here to get myself in contention, and see where my game’s at,” he said.
In the past four editions, local golfers saw foreign visitors claim the trophy on their home turf and in order to snap this streak, Korea will mount a strong challenge with a solid line-up.
PGA Tour rookie Bae Sang-moon has made a good start to his first season with two top-10 finishes including a tie for second at the Transitions Championship.
The 25-year-old, who missed the cut last year, is determined to overcome bad memories in this tournament.
“I think I learned a lot, and I learned how to control my mind a little bit better (from last year’s championship), and I think if I can control myself this time, I’ll be able to get some good scores,” he told reporters on Wednesday.
The nation’s other PGA Tour members — Kim Kyung-tae and Yang Yong-eun — will also vie to win the elusive title for Korea.
“I’ve been taking part in the Ballantine’s Championship for the past four years, and last year, I made it to the top 10 for the first time. So, I’m looking forward to this week,” Kim said.
“Coming into this year, we have not had a Korean winner, but I believe we have the confidence to win.”