SEOUL (Reuters) - An Byeong-hun’s victory at last month’s BMW PGA Championship could help open the door to Olympic and Presidents Cup berths, but the South Korean golfer knows he has a long way to go to match the exploits of his sporting parents.
An achieved the biggest win of his career in the lucrative European Tour event at Wentworth and his subsequent vault up the world rankings could help earn him a spot on the International Team at the Presidents Cup later this year.
South Korea will host the Presidents Cup at Incheon’s Jack Nicklaus Golf Club Korea from Oct. 8-11
An’s rise to 52nd in the world makes him South Korea’s leading golfer, which could also see him follow in the footsteps of his parents, who both won Olympic medals in table tennis.
An’s father, Jae-hyung, won a bronze in the men’s doubles at the 1988 Seoul Olympics. His mother, Jiao Zhimin, won a silver and bronze for China at the same Games.
They married after the Olympics.
”I have definitely thought about the Olympics,“ the 23-year-old said in a statement on Wednesday. ”I felt that I had more chance of getting there than the Presidents Cup, because it’s the top two in the country and I’ve been close.
“It would be great to get in. My parents have played in the Olympics and won a medal and it would be great to do the same.”
South Korean veteran KJ Choi will act as vice captain to International skipper Nick Price, and both have had kind words to say about his progress.
An, who became the youngest winner of the U.S. Amateur Championship in 2009, said a Presidents Cup place would help cement his rise in world golf.
“It would be great I think, playing in my home country, and representing the International Team means I’m in the top 12 international players in the world, so it would be an honor to play,” he added.
“I never thought about it because I was way behind those guys before the BMW PGA, but now I’m starting to think about it.”
An said he has had to update his goals for the season after starting out with the three-fold targets of keeping his playing card, getting into the top 60 and winning a tournament.
His victory at Wentworth helped him achieve all three, and also brought him plenty of media attention.
“My manager has said he’s been inundated with phone calls for media interviews from Korea and my dad has had even more calls,” he added.
“He said he had over 100 calls in the three days after my victory, and he was thanking me for blowing up his phone.”