Jang Yu-bin and Cho Woo-young, the two amateur members of the Korean men's golf team at the Asian Games here, ended their amateur careers with a flourish ― by winning the team gold medal.
Jang and Cho, both 21, joined PGA Tour veterans Im Sung-jae and Kim Si-woo to help Korea run away with the team title at 76-under, a whopping 25 strokes better than Thailand at the West Lake International Golf Course in Hangzhou.
The two youngsters didn't just ride the coattails of the more established pros. Jang opened the tournament with a blistering round of 11-under 61 and was the top Korean through 54 holes, before finishing in fifth place at 22-under. Cho shot in the 60s in three of the four rounds and tied for sixth place at 17-under.
As they are about to launch their pro careers later this month, Jang and Cho are trying to take lessons learned from playing with Im and Kim to their hearts.
"Both Woo-young and I idolized them. They hit some unbelievable shots, and their short game was close to perfection," Jang marveled. "I learned so much from just watching them play."
Cho said the Asian Games have been "the most significant competition of my life" on many levels.
"I realized here just how much more I have to learn," Cho said. "Since both Sung-jae and Si-woo are established players on the PGA Tour, I wanted to make sure I wouldn't hurt the rest of the team. Both Yu-bin and I played well early on, and I think we were able to make our teammates trust us more."
Jang said he will try to make it to the second-tier Korn Ferry Tour at the end of 2024 and then try to reach the PGA Tour within the next two to three years.
"I don't know when exactly that will happen, but I am never going to give up," Jang said.
Cho said waiting to turn professional following the one-year postponement of the Asian Games was the best call he'd made.
"When I saw some of my friends turn pro and win tournaments, I started doubting if I had made the right decision to stay amateur," Cho said. "I figured waiting an extra year wasn't going to guarantee a gold medal. But I think I've proven myself to people that my perseverance paid off. I want to pat myself on the back." (Yonhap)