Atwal misses title by a stroke

SEOUL, APRIL 29. Despite a fine six-under 66, Arjun Atwal could only manage a runner-up finish as Korea's Choi Gwang Soo won the Maekyung LG Fashion Open golf tournament by one stroke at the Nam Seoul Country Club here on Sunday.

Atwal, who entered the final round with a four-stroke deficit against overnight leader Gwang Soo, finished at 16-under 272 along with local amateur Kim Dae-Sub. Gwang Soo carded a 69 for his second victory on the Davidoff Tour. He took home $51,813.

Atwal began with two bogeys before recovering with three birdies for an aggregate of 11-under at the turn. The Calcutta-based pro made a series of birdies on the back nine, including three successive ones from the 14th hole, but failed to catch up with a steady Gwang Soo, who parred the final hole.

``After the early bogeys, it was an uphill task for me. But I am quite happy with the way I fought back,'' said Atwal, who shot 13-under in his last two rounds.

Among the other Indians, Amandeep Johl (276), who was placed second after the third round, could only manage a 71 to slip to the fifth position along with two others. Amandeep had set the new course record of 63 on Friday.

Arjun Singh, who scored a 71, ended at the joint 24th spot at five-under, while Jyoti Randhawa's par enabled him to finish with 286 for the 39th spot. Amritinder Singh (289) shot a 73 for the 53rd place.

On the final day, Chinese Taipei's 46-year-old Chung Chun-Hsing slammed home a 11-under 61 to set a new record on the Davidoff Tour. Philipines' Frankie Minoza, too, had managed a 61 in the Singapore Masters in February but the tournament was played over a par-71 course.

Twenty-year-old Kim, who won the Korean Open three years ago, and Atwal battled tenaciously in front of 5,000 fans to shoot identical 66s and pushed Choi, last year's Korean PGA Tour No. 1 player, all the way to the finish line. In the end, Choi clinched the title with a par on the final hole.

``I'm happy and proud to win, especially in front of my home crowd,'' said a delighted Choi, who triumphed at last year's Hyundai Motors Masters, also in Seoul, for his maiden Asian PGA title.

Using a new inter-locking putting grip, Choi, the joint first round leader, threatened to run away with the title after nailing three birdies in the opening seven holes but suffered bogeys at the eighth and 13th.

Kim's youthful exuberance and talent was on display as he produced an outward 32 to climb up the leaderboard. He raised his title hopes with a chip-in eagle at the par five 16th to move to within one of Choi. He overshot the final green but had fans on the edge of their seats when his delicate downhill birdie chip agonisingly slid by the hole.

* The scores: Choi Gwang Soo (Kor) (65, 69, 68, 69) 271; Arjun Atwal (Ind) (71, 70, 65, 66), Kim Dae-Sub (A) (Kor) (69, 69, 68, 66) 272; Hwang Sung Ha (Kor) (70, 69, 66, 69) 274; Amandeep Johl (Ind) (73, 63, 69, 71), Chung Chun-Hsing (Tpe) (74, 70, 71, 61) and Zaw Moe (Myn) 66, 71, 69) 276.

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