Korean Professional Golf (KPGA) Korean Tour “surprise stars” Chung Chan-min, 24, and Baek Seok-hyun, 33, have one thing in common: they’re big and they won for the first time this year. But their styles couldn’t be more different. Chung has a fierce long game, while Baek has a precise short game.
Chung won his first title since joining the KPGA in 2019 at the GS Caltex Mae Kyung Open (total prize money of 1.3 billion won), which concluded on July 7. And Baek Seok-hyun, who joined the KPGA in 2013, emerged from obscurity to win his first career title wire-to-wire at the SK Telecom Open (1.3 billion won in total prize money) on Nov. 21. After emerging as the center of attention early in the season, Chung and Baek will be competing in the KB Financial Live Championship (total prize money of 700 million won) at Blackstone Icheon Golf Club (Par 72) in Gyeonggi from the 25th, sparking a battle of giants.
Chung boasts a sturdy physique with a height of 188 centimeters and a weight in the mid 110 kilograms. Baek Seok-hyun, at 181 centimeters tall and weighing in at around 90 kilograms, is shorter than Jung Chan-min, but he is heavier than the other players. At one point, he weighed over 140 kilograms, but he lost 80 kilograms in 2019 and has since gained some weight. In addition to their towering physiques, both Chung and Baek are long hitters. Chung’s longest driver is 405 yards (about 370 meters), while Baek’s is 330 yards (301 meters).
However, their approach to the game is quite different. While Chung uses his cool long game to get the ball rolling early, Seok Hyun Baek focuses on his short game later in the round, utilizing a precise wedge. Chung ranks second on the KPGA Korean Tour in average drive distance this season (325.064 yards), well ahead of 89th-ranked Seok Hyun Baek (289.660 yards). On the other hand, Baek ranks 24th in greens in regulation (70.1389%), ahead of 45th-ranked Chung Chan-min (67.9739%).
Chung credits his physique and flexibility for his long game. “The driving force of the long shot is my natural physicality, such as my height and skeleton,” he said, “and I feel like I can send it farther with my flexibility.” “I think you can increase the distance if you have good flexibility,” said Jung Chan-min, who emphasized that she doesn’t do any special training but stretches often. Baek Seok-hyun also credits his physique for his long shots. “Even now, if I hit it right, I can go more than 300 yards,” he said, “but when I lost weight, the distance decreased. “When I lost weight, my distance decreased. When I gained weight through weight training, I regained my distance.
The proportional relationship between physique and distance is proven. “Muscle mass, muscle power, flexibility, and swing form are important for a long hit,” said Lee Ki-kwang, a professor of sports health and rehabilitation at Kookmin University, who specializes in kinesiology. “In particular, muscles can be compared to an engine, and if you’re a big guy, you have an advantage because you have a lot of muscle mass,” he said. “Longer people are also more likely to hit long shots. The taller you are, the harder you can hit with a long lever-like effect.” There are exceptions, like Rory McIlroy (Northern Ireland). McIlroy is a lanky 5-foot-11, 177 pounds, but he leads the PGA Tour in average drive distance (326.2 yards). “Even though he’s small, he makes his swing arc as big as possible,” Lee said. “His swing mechanics are so good and his flexibility is so good that he can twist his body well and hit the ball hard.”스포츠토토
While his long game captivates audiences, his short game wins trophies. “Even if you hit a good driver, it doesn’t mean you can score right away. “How many times can you hit a perfect driver and iron in four rounds?” said Baek. “At the end of the day, you have to recover from your mistakes and make the big shots,” he said. “You’re taught from a young age that you have to have a good short game, and it’s hard to find a world-class golfer who doesn’t have a good short game.” Chan Min Chung also pointed out the importance of the short game. “I won my first championship with the short game,” he said, “and even if you hit the long game well, it’s the short game that makes the score.” I still lack short game ability, so I need to work on it.”