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OneAsia Order of Merit title goes to the wire

Park Sang-HyunCOOLUM, Australia, Dec 12 - The OneAsia Order of Merit will be decided this weekend with three players still in with a chance of overhauling Korean Kim Bi-o -- but they will have to win the Australian PGA Championship, presented by Coca-Cola, to succeed.

Bi-o has led the money list since winning the GS Caltex Maekyung Open and SK Telecom Open over a lucrative two-week stretch in May, and following a hiatus on the U.S. Web.com Tour he boosted his OneAsia earnings with joint fourth place at the Charity High1 Resort Open in September.

The 22-year-old has made U.S.$380,745.98 in 2012, but with a winners cheque worth around U.S. $235,000 on offer at the Palmer Coolum Resort this week, Korean Park Sang-hyun and Australians Nick Cullen and Matthew Griffin could overhaul him if they are crowned champion on Sunday.


The A$1.25 million tournament is also the final event on the co-sanctioning PGA Tour of Australasia.

"That would be pretty nice … I'd be pretty happy with that," said Cullen, who is currently in third place on $208,638.62.

Cullen got his year off to a flying start by winning the season-opening Enjoy Jakarta Indonesia Open -- his first significant professional title -- to go along with a spot in the 2012 Open Championship that he had earlier earned at International Final Qualifying in Australia.

 


The left-hander admits, however, that he lost his way a bit in the middle of the year -- although he feels he is getting back into form.

"It's hard to back up after a start like that," he said.

Nick Cullen"Winning early in the year, I guess, sort of raises your expectations to maybe do it again and keep it going. But the last six to eight weeks have been good. I've had four or five top tens in Australia, but a good finish here would be great."

Asked to define exactly what went well for him in Jakarta in March, Cullen credits a hot three wood.

"In one of the rounds I hit 14 fairways," he said, adding he missed only five all week.

"Around that course it was really important -- as it is this week. So if I can just get my three wood working like it was then, who knows."

Griffin who was having an "average" year by his definition until winning the Charity High1 Resort Open, is currently fourth on the Order of Merit with $203,318.78 and itching to do well this week on a track he likes.

"It's exciting. I have a good chance to win a major tour's Order of Merit," he said. "I've played well on this course in the past, so I think I've got a good chance."

The Korea win was also Griffin's first significant professional title, and for him the difference was all in the mind.

"I think mentally that week was the best I've been in any tournament. I stuck to a good game plan and just was really patient," he said.

"It's hard to say why I was so much better that week, but I'd like to bottle it ."

Matthew GriffinPark, with $216,492 on the money list, has been a model of consistency this year and is in second place despite not winning a tournament.

"I have come so close, but I have just not managed to win, so to get a victory here would be a great way to finish," he said, glad also to escape Korea's cold weather for the warmth and humidity of Australia's Sunshine Coast.

"In Korea it is winter already, so I am very happy to be here."

Park says he likes the Palmer Coolum Resort's tree-lined layout, which favours accurate tee shots and confident putting on fast greens.

"I have tried hard this year and come very close, but just haven't managed to win. Now I don't care about second anymore. Now I just want to win."

 

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