An Byeong-hun first Asian to take home European PGA Rookie of the Year

December 4, 2015
South Korean golfer An Byeong-hun celebrates his win at the BMW Championship. (Adam Davy/PA via AP)

South Korean golfer An Byeong-hun celebrates his win at the BMW Championship. (Adam Davy/PA via AP)

By Brian Han

South Koreans continue to make waves in the world’s top-tier professional golf tours.

The latest goes to An Byeong-hun, who put together a memorable debut year on the European PGA Tour that included a major victory at the BMW PGA Championship and a seventh-place finish in the Race to Dubai.

Even more impressive comes from the fact that the 24-year-old became the first Asian player in the 43-year history of the tour to win Rookie of the Year honors.

Despite his young age, An already looks beyond himself and the positive impact he can bring to the sport.

“It’s great to be part of that history,” he said. “I’m the first Asian to win it, and hopefully it will help bring more Asian players to play on the European Tour.”

Other notable winners of the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year award include Sergio Garcia, Nick Faldo, Martin Kaymer and Jose Maria Olazabal.

Other rookies like England’s Matt Fitzpatrick, who won two events, and Anirban Lahiri, put up stiff competition all year long, but in the end An’s consistent play, especially in the playoff events, put him ahead of the others.

“Obviously gutted I didn’t win Rookie Of The Year,” Fitzpatrick wrote on Twitter, “thought I’d done enough in the events I played but hats off to Ben [referring to An Byeong-hun].”

The South Korean is the third-highest ranked Asian in the world at No. 31 behind Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama (No. 14) and Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee (No. 28).

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