Opportunity for Aussies at Korea Open

Cheonan, 4 October 2011: YE Yang is looking forward to again locking horns with US Open champion Rory McIlroy at this week's Kolon Korea Open, while the veteran Korean also faces competition from colourful American Rickie Fowler and compatriots Noh Seung-yul, Kim Kyung-tae and Bae Sang-moon at Woo Jeong Hills Country Club.

Last year the 2009 PGA Championship winner remarkably overcame a 10 shot final round deficit to claim a second Korea Open title after landing a first green jacket in 2006 prior to his much heralded win over Tiger Woods at the HSBC Champions in Shanghai.

And after being denied a second Major title by the brilliant McIlroy and Australia's Jason Day at Congressional Country Club in June, Yang is looking to return to the winner's circle at the KRW1,000,000,000 OneAsia event this week.

"I have good memories of the course from last year. I enjoy this tournament and I know that Korean fans look forward to this week," said the 39-year-old world number 43, who eventually finished tied for third at the US Open.

"Rory is a good player and I am looking forward to playing against him this week. I lost to him at the US Open so I would like to beat him, but he is the highest ranked player in the field this week."

McIlroy arrived in Korea on Tuesday after claiming a runner-up finish at last week's Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, which represented another near miss for the world number three after posting back-to-back third place finishes in his previous two outings in Europe.

But after finishing third behind Bae at the 2009 Korea Open, McIlroy is upbeat about beginning a grueling global schedule, which will see the 22-year-old play nine events in 11 weeks before Christmas, with a fourth career title.

"I am excited to be back for the first time since 2009. I went close last time and finished third, so it would be nice to come back and do better. I enjoyed myself last time and I am excited about the week, so hopefully I can play well," said McIlroy.

"I remember the course, but the thing I remember most is that the par threes are tough, especially on the back nine. All aspects of your game have to be in shape every week, but especially iron play this week considering the tough par threes we will have to play."

Fowler, the 2010 US PGA Tour Rookie of the Year, is making his first trip to Korea this week after posting four top-10 finishes this year, including a fifth place finish at The Open.

"Rory has told me a lot of good things about the course and the venue," said the 22-year-old world number 36. "Rory will be a big rival this week. We have played together before and have a friendly rivalry. We enjoy playing together and always try to beat each other.

"YE Yang will also be a contender this week because he has a lot more experience."

With Noh looking to bounce back from letting slip a five shot final round lead last year, compatriot Kim is in the hunt to rein in Australia's Andre Stolz at the top of the OneAsia Order of Merit.

"I'm sure YE Yang has great memories of last year, but I don't and I hope he will feel my pain this time around," said Noh. "I play the Korea Open every year and I am looking forward to playing alongside top quality players."

Kim led the way at the top of the Order of Merit after following up his GS Caltex Maekyung Open victory with a second place finish at the SK Telecom Open, but with Stolz landing a second OneAsia title of the year at August's Thailand Open, the world number 22 has slipped into second place with only three events remaining this season.

"I have taken part in the Korea Open ever since I was an amateur and I was upset I couldn't take part last year," said Kim.

"But recently my scores have been good, and if I can maintain my current condition, I think I can have a good result this week."

Bae, meanwhile, is gunning for a third Korea Open title in four years after the 2008 and 2009 champion won last week's Coca-Cola Tokai Classic to move to the top of the Japan Tour Order of Merit. Interestingly, as of Tuesday evening he was still in the draw for this week's Canon Open on the Japan Golf Tour.

Australasians in the field are many and are headed by the current Order of Merit leader Andre Stolz with Mike Hendry, another to be playing well this season, also to tee it up.

An Australasian of special interest in this week's field is New Zealander Danny Lee who last week secured his PGA Tour card for 2012 when winning the WNB Classic on the Nationwide Tour.

Source; OneAsia

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