An Byeong-hun ties for 16th at Masters to lead S. Korean players

April 15, 2024

An Byeong-hun has finished tied for 16th at the Masters to lead all South Korean players at the first major championship of the PGA Tour season.

An shot a three-over 75 in the final round at the par-72 Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia, on Sunday (local time), and finished at two-over 290 overall.

An started the day in a tie for ninth place but dropped outside the top 10 after recording five birdies, six bogeys and one double bogey.

It was An’s worst round of the week, following rounds of 70, 73 and 72, but still good enough to give An his best showing at the Masters in his fifth appearance.

The 32-year-old had missed the cut in 2010, 2016 and 2020, and finished tied for 33rd in 2017.

An bogeyed the opening hole but bounced right back with a birdie at the second hole. He traded a bogey at the fifth with a birdie at the seventh but made the turn at one-over for the day after a bogey at the ninth hole.

Another roller-coaster ride followed on the second nine. An had a bogey at the 11th and a double bogey at the 12th but then battled back with birdies at the 13th and 14th.

Then An closed out his tournament with back-to-back bogeys at the 16th and 17th, and a birdie at the 18th.

This was An’s 10th tournament of the season, and he has been inside the top 25 in six of them.

An said afterward he felt he could have played much better on the weekend.

“Yesterday, I could have had six more birdies, a lot more pars. Same today. It was very disappointing to finish this way,” said An, who said he was pleased with his ball striking but not so much with his putting. “I’ve got to figure something out. It’s golf. I feel like all the game’s there, short game’s there, ball striking’s there. It’s kind of disappointing to have this kind of play on the greens. It’s tough greens to putt on. It’s not the easiest greens. It’s not the easiest read.”

Two other South Korean players, Tom Kim and Kim Si-woo, tied for 30th at five-over 293.

Tom Kim, whose Korean name is Joo-hyung, had an especially strong finish with a six-under 66, the best final round score in the field. He had eight birdies, including four in a row starting at the ninth, and two bogeys. He had shot 78-77 over the two previous rounds after opening with a 72.

Kim Si-woo closed with a 70 with three birdies — all of them coming on the first nine — and a bogey.

One other South Korean player, Im Sung-jae, missed the cut by one shot after shooting 77-74 in the first two rounds.

An said it was encouraging to see four South Korean players in the field at Augusta, with three of them making the cut, and he expects to see more in the future.

“I feel like there’s many great players that can play into this event,” he said. “You definitely will see more in the future. There’s still a lot of guys playing on the PGA Tour who could have made it here. Four is a decent number, but hopefully, we can get the win one day.”

Tom Kim, one of the rising young stars with three PGA Tour titles at age 21, agreed with that sentiment.

“I think all four could have made the cut easily. We’ve got a lot of good players, and I think it’s definitely getting a lot more competitive,” he said. “I think us playing well is definitely inspiring the next generation to come to the PGA Tour and to play events like this because no matter what tour comes along, you can’t beat traditions like the Masters and the four major championships.”

Kim Si-woo, who made his PGA Tour debut in 2013 as an 18-year-old, said South Korean players have been pushing hard to great effect.

“We battle each other, and it helps us get to the top,” he said. “Back in the day, I didn’t have much of that. But now, we’ve got six, seven players battling every week. So I think that helps and then hopefully gets more Korean players on the tour.”

World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler won his second career green jacket by shooting an 11-under 277, four better than Ludvig Aberg of Sweden.