Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Highest-ranked S. Korean golfer confident ahead of PGA Championship

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By Yoo Jee-ho

SEOUL, May 16 (Yonhap) — Having posted consecutive top-five finishes on the PGA Tour, South Korean veteran An Byeong-hun is entering the second major championship of the season this week riding high on confidence.

Now the highest-ranked South Korean at No. 23, An feels he can finally have his major breakthrough at the PGA Championship in Kentucky if he can just play his game.

In this Getty Images photo, An Byeong-hun of South Korea tees off on the eighth hole during a practice round for the PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky, on May 15, 2024. (Yonhap)

“I’ve been playing some great golf lately. I am really happy with my results over the past two weeks,” An said at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville on Wednesday (local time), in a video clip provided by the PGA of America. “This week, I should be able to give myself a chance to contend if I can play my golf.”

In 13 events this season, An has had five top-10 finishes, already one more than all of last season. He was alone in third place last week at the Wells Fargo Championship, which came a week after he’d finished tied for fourth at the CJ Cup Byron Nelson.

An opened the season with back-to-back top-five performances in January, finishing fourth at The Sentry and then losing in a playoff at the Sony Open in Hawaii.

The 32-year-old isn’t just seeking his first major title. The 2015 European Tour Rookie of the Year remains without a PGA Tour win, with the runner-up showing at this year’s Sony Open being his closest call so far.

An said shotmaking will be at a premium on the 7,609-yard course.

In this Getty Images photo, An Byeong-hun of South Korea checks his club on the third tee during a practice round for the PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky, on May 15, 2024. (Yonhap)

In this Getty Images photo, An Byeong-hun of South Korea checks his club on the third tee during a practice round for the PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky, on May 15, 2024. (Yonhap)

“This is not a short course and the rough is long here,” An said. “With the greens being soft and slow, I think hitting good shots will be really important this week.”

An has not yet come close to contending for a major title. Last month, he tied his career-best showing at a major by tying for 16th at the Masters. With 28 major appearances under his belt, jitters are no longer an issue for An.

“I’ve played in my share of majors,” An said. “If I can play my game, just like at other regular tournaments, I should be able to put up a good result.”

An will be one of seven South Korean players in the field at Valhalla.

In this Getty Images photo, An Byeong-hun of South Korea hits a shot on the eighth hole during a practice round for the PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky, on May 14, 2024. (Yonhap)

In this Getty Images photo, An Byeong-hun of South Korea hits a shot on the eighth hole during a practice round for the PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky, on May 14, 2024. (Yonhap)

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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