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Top golfers clash in Korea-Japan matches

Top golfers from Korea and Japan will face each other at the Korea-Japan Million Yard Cup, which tees off on Friday at Jeongsan Golf Club, in Gimhae, South Gyeongsang Province.

The three-day competition is the third occasion in which Korea’s top male golfers team up to play against Japan. In its inaugural competition in 2004, Korea beat Japan, but in their last clash in 2010, they lost to the Japan side.

Determined to reclaim the title this year, Team Korea has fielded a team of rising youngsters, including 22-year-old Kim Do-hoon and 25-year-old Bae Sang-moon, who both play in Japan Golf Tour.

In addition, Kim Kyung-tae, 25, who topped the money list in Japan in 2010, and 23-year-old big-hitter Kim Dae-hyun are named in the squad.

Also joining the youngsters is Asia’s first major champion Yang Yong-eun. The 39-year-old Yang, who tied for the third place at the U.S. Open recently, will add his experience and skills to the young squad to face off against the Japanese rivals. 
Korean top golfer Yang Yong-eun (right) and Ryo Ishikawa of Japan during the 2011 U.S. Open on June 17. (AFP-Yonhap News)
Korean top golfer Yang Yong-eun (right) and Ryo Ishikawa of Japan during the 2011 U.S. Open on June 17. (AFP-Yonhap News)

Meanwhile, the Japanese side also boasts some of that country’s big names.

Most notably, Ryo Ishikawa, who reached stardom in 2009 after becoming the youngest Japan Tour champion, will lead the Japanese side in the competition.

Also joining the 20-year-old rising star are 10-time Japan tour champion Hiroyuki Fujita and eight-time champion Yuta Ikeda, who are currently at 65th and 66th world rankings respectively.

Team Japan also includes its veteran golfer Shingo Katayama. The 38-year-old golfer has won 26 tournaments in Japan and topped the tour money list five times, and will now guide the Japanese side against Korea.

The event is 36 holes of stroke play over three days, in which partners take their best net score on each hole and add them up to determine a winner. The winning team will receive total prize money of $200,000.

By Oh Kyu-wook (596story@heraldcorp.com)
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