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Two-time winner Kim Dae-sub, only recently discharged from 20 months of military service, underscored his return to competitive golf with a brilliant two-stroke victory on Sunday in OneAsia's Kolon Korea Open.
Kim fired a final round two-under-par 69 for a five-under tournament total of 279 around the tough Woo Jeong Hills Country Club -- and a winner's cheque of 300,000 million won (around $270,000), the richest prize in Korean golf.
Co-overnight leader Kim Dae-hyun (71) birdied the last to grab sole second place, while Kang Kyung-nam -- who led for two rounds before a 77 in the third -- fought back on Sunday with a 68 for a share of third with Major winner Y.E. Yang (67).
Kim Dae-sub burst onto the scene as a 16-year-old schoolboy amateur in 1998 when he beat the country's best professionals to lift his first Korea Open title.
He proved that was no fluke by repeating the feat in 2001 -- turning professional immediately afterwards -- but never quite fulfilled his potential and kept deferring the national service that all Korean men must do in a bid to find form in the paid ranks.
Running out of time, he was finally conscripted as a 29-year-old in 2010, and although he effectively had a nine-to-five office job in the army, tournament golf was out of the question.
Discharged just two months ago, Kim signalled his return by winning on the Korean Tour three weeks later.
"I always dreamed I would win the Korea Open as a professional, but I didn't think it would happen this year," he said. "This is the happiest day of my life."
The turning point in the final round came on the second hole when Kim Dae-sub drained an 18 foot putt for birdie and and never looked back as playing partner Kim Dae-hyun three-putted for bogey.
Ahead of them Kang birdied three in-a-row to get back into the tournament, but despite another three on the back nine he kept leaking bogeys.
Japanese star Ryo Ishikawa, a nine-time winner on his domestic tour at just 21, climbed up the leaderboard with four birdies on the front nine but couldn't sustain the challenge and had to settle for a share of seventh place, six shots off the pace, with American David Oh.
Rory Hie of Indonesia and Brazilian Lucas lee -- who both finished at nine over -- were the only two other non-Koreans in the top 30.
The next event on the OneAsia calendar is the Australian Open in Sydney from December 6-9, boasting some of the country's top overseas players as they return from duty on the PGA and European Tours for an end-of-year break.
Kim Dae-sub said he planned to continue playing in Korea in the short term, and would try play on the Japan Tour next year.
But his ultimate goal was to emulate countrymen K.J. Choi and Y.E. Yang and ply his trade on the world stage.
"I would like to be like them one day," he said. "I want to test myself against the best."
279 - KIM Dae-sub (KOR) 72-68-70-69.
281 - KIM Dae-hyun (KOR) 71-73-66-71.
282 - Y. E. YANG (KOR) 73-70-72-67, KANG Kyung-nam (KOR) 68-69-77-68.
283 - RYU Hyun-woo (KOR) 75-69-73-66.
284 - NOH Seung-yul (KOR) 73-74-68-69.
285 - David OH (USA) 73-72-72-68, Ryo ISHIKAWA (JPN) 75-72-69-69, CHOI Ho-sung (KOR) 71-71-72-71.
287 - CHAE Bum-geun (KOR) 72-74-71-70.
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