By Andrew Kim
Northwest Asian Weekly
Byeong-hun An is a 23-year-old Korean golfer who will be a contender in the upcoming U.S. Open, held at Chambers Bay, Washington this year. An currently plays golf in Europe and most recently, in May, he won the most prestigious golf tournament in the European Tour, the PGA Championship. He is the first Asian to win the PGA Championship and he set the tournament record by finishing 21 under par. On the last day, An made 5 birdies and an eagle in a bogey free round to win by six strokes. The victory at the PGA Championship comes on the heels of several other top 10 finishes.
An is not new to record setting. Back in 2009, at age 17, An became the youngest ever winner of the U.S. Amateur Championship. A year later, An tried to defend his title which was coincidentally held at Chambers Bay when it hosted the US Amateur Championship in 2010.
He is hopeful that this experience pays dividends as he contends for the U.S. Open.
An’s parents were both table tennis medalists in the 1988 Olympics. An claims that he “took up golf because I’m not athletic enough for table tennis – I’m too slow and too big – but my parents are my role models.” An is larger than most golfers at 6’2” and weighing 209 lbs., but has handled the pressure and nerves of winning with composure. With such a strong pedigree, his success this year might have been seen as inevitable but it was far from that.
After winning the U.S. Amateur Championship, An briefly attended U.C. Berkeley before deciding to turn pro.
An initially struggled to find his footing as a pro, playing in the lower Challenge Tour with only one win and failing to make the cut in several tournaments. An credits his three years on the Challenge Tour as preparing him for success and is encouraging other Asian golfers to try their luck in Europe.
An is playing the best golf of his career and he looks to parlay his recent string of strong performances into a good showing at this year’s U.S. Open. (end)