An Byeong-hun finishes runner-up on PGA Tour, qualifies for playoffs

August 7, 2023

South Korean golfer An Byeong-hun has posted his first runner-up finish of the PGA Tour season, easily qualifying for the upcoming playoffs in the process.

An shot a three-under 67 in the weather-interrupted final round of the Wyndham Championship, finishing two-shots behind the winner, Lucas Glover of the United States, at 18-under 262 at Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, North Carolina, on Sunday (local time).

This was An’s fourth top-10 performance of the season, and his second in three tournaments, following a third-place showing at the Genesis Scottish Open last month. An has yet to win on the PGA Tour in 178 starts, with four career runner-up finishes. The 31-year-old won a European Tour event in 2015, when he was named the tour’s best rookie.

An had three birdies and a bogey on the front nine at the Wyndham Championship. After another bogey at the 12th, An picked up birdies at the 13th and the 14th. He trailed Glover and Russell Henley by two strokes when play was suspended due to thunderstorms.

After about a two-hour delay, An sent his approach shot to the 15th green into deep rough on the left. A mediocre chip set up a two-putt par, and Henley, An’s playing partner, birdied the same hole to take a one-shot lead over Glover and three-shot advantage over An.

Henley bogeyed the final three holes, however, to tie An for second place. The South Korean couldn’t make his 17-foot birdie putt on the 17th green that would have put more pressure on Glover, and An settled for par at the 18th after missing the fairway to the left and sending his second shot well past the putting surface.

By finishing second at the Wyndham Championship to close out the regular season, An jumped 15 spots in the FedEx Cup standings to No. 37, joining three other South Koreans inside the top 70 headed to the FedEx St. Jude Championship, the first of three playoff tournaments starting this week in Memphis.

“Performance overall today, I think it was pretty decent. I hung in there,” An said after his final round. “It wasn’t my best ball-striking day, but I made a lot of putts that mattered at certain times, so I think that was a big bonus for me.”

An hit nine of 14 fairways in the final round while hitting 14 greens in regulation. He needed 30 putts to get around his last 18 holes.

“I played just really steady golf all year, I think. Didn’t really have a really good finish until the Scottish and today, I guess. But it’s trending,” An said. “It’s not just about this year, but you’re looking ahead to five years and I’m trying to be the best golfer in the world out there. But it takes effort, it takes work. We’re heading in the right direction, so I’m very happy for that.”

Kim Joo-hyung, who picked up his second career win earlier in the season, was the top South Korean at No. 14, followed by Kim Si-woo at No. 18 and Im Sung-jae at No. 32.

Im tied for 14th at the Wyndham Championship at 10-under, following a 68 in the final round. Kim Si-woo tied for 33rd at six-under. Kim Joo-hyung, the defending champion, missed his title defense while nursing an ankle injury.

Two other South Koreans, Lee Kyoung-hoon, No. 77 in the FedEx Cup standings, and Kim Seong-hyeon, No. 83, did not qualify for the playoffs.

After the FedEx St. Jude Championship, those remaining in the top 50 in FedEx Cup points will qualify for the second playoff event, the BMW Championship. And only the top 30 following the BMW Championship will get to compete at the Tour Championship, which tees off on Aug. 24 in Atlanta.

An has never made it to the Tour Championship and he said he wants to change that this year.

“That was my goal for the year,” he said. “I’m playing my best golf right now. We still believe there’s room for improvement. Hopefully, it gets better from here.”