Kim Joo-hyung of South Korea on his way to Singapore International victory
Kim Joo-hyung of South Korea on his way to Singapore International victory Image Credit: AFP

South Korean teenager Kim Joo-hyung held his nerve to sink a birdie on the first playoff hole and win The Singapore International on Sunday.

It was the 19-year-old’s second win on the Asian Tour and lifted him atop the Order of Merit, with the concluding Singapore Open left to be played on the pandemic-delayed Asian Tour 2020-21 season next week.

The 14-year-old Thai amateur Ratchanon Chantananuwat, playing in his first professional event outside Thailand, signed for a 69 to finish in third.

Kim started the day at Tanah Merah Country Club two shots back of Rattanon Wannasrichan but took the lead as he fired three successive birdies starting from the par-four seven after the Thai stumbled with two opening bogeys.

The teenager was leading by two shots with two holes left to play before dropping a shot on 17. Rattanon forced the playoff by closing with a birdie on 18 for an even-par 72 after Kim could only settle for par.

With both players ending regulation play with matching four-day totals of four-under-par 284, it was back to the par-five 18, where Kim eventually sealed his second Tour victory after his 2019 breakthrough in India.

“This second win has got to be a lot harder than the first one, only because it’s a tough golf course and everyone played their hearts out,” said Kim. “It was a grind today and I’m just very lucky to be on top.”

Ratchanon, better known as ‘TK’, was attempting to become the youngest winner on one of the world’s main Tours, aged 14 years, three months, four days.

He would have bettered the mark set by his compatriot Atthaya Thitikul, who won the 2017 Ladies European Thailand Open when she was 14 years, four months, 19 days.

However, it was not meant to be as, despite going out in five-under, he came back in three-over which included a double bogey on 17.

“People will look at those scores online, see those dropped shots, and think I played badly but I didn’t. I was trying so hard and playing well,” said the youngster, who made a 12-footer for birdie on 18. Just three players beat he par of 288 over the 72 holes

Dubai-based MG Keyser shot a final round 69, the third best score of the day, to finish tied 39th on 9-over. Fellow Dubai resident Shiv Kapur scored a final round 72 to finish 10-over and tied 46th.