South Korean Bae Sang-moon scores first PGA Tour victory

South Korean loves the Texan city as he lifts his first PGA title in Byron Nelson Championship

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 21 May, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 21 May, 2013, 5:39am

With Dallas' large population of South Koreans, Bae Sang-moon was considering a move to the city before the Byron Nelson Championship.

His breakthrough victory may have closed the deal. "I love this place," Bae said. "I would move to Dallas tomorrow." The second-year PGA Tour player certainly felt at home with rounds of 66-66-66-69 in his first Nelson appearance.

In difficult scoring conditions, Bae handled the tough closing stretch with poise.

He birdied the par-five 16th, hit a gutsy shot over the water for par on 17 and then confidently drilled his drive in the fairway on the punishing 18th. His two-putt par from 22 feet kept him two strokes clear of 2011 Nelson champion Keegan Bradley, who had led the first three rounds.

When Bae's three-foot putt on 18 dropped, he thrust his arms in the air, shook Bradley's hand and then embraced his caddie.

Peggy Nelson congratulated him beside the green. "It's like a dream," Bae said. "It's something I've always dreamed of, winning on the PGA Tour.

"I've won 11 times abroad, so it was surreal to have Mrs Nelson there, and with all the history, I was in awe. I almost didn't know how to react. It was awkward because it's such a special moment."

Bae, 26, became the third South Korean to win on the PGA Tour. The others, K.J. Choi and Y.E. Yang, are North Texas neighbours.

In becoming the Nelson's 11th first-time winner, Bae gained fully exempt status on the PGA Tour through to 2015. He also earned entry to this year's PGA Championship and next year's Masters.

The last player to get his breakthrough win in his first Nelson start was Bradley two years ago. He went on to win the PGA Championship and Player of the Year.

Bradley was trying to become only the third wire-to-wire winner at the Nelson, the first since Tom Watson in 1980.

But he bogeyed the long par-four third with a drive in the right hazard and basically fought to save pars in the strong gusts.

"I'm pretty disappointed but Bae played very well. He deserves it," said Bradley, who shot 72.