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Golf: Korea’s An registers fourth runner-up finish of career at Wyndham Championship

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Golf: Korea’s An registers fourth runner-up finish of career at Wyndham Championship

The 31-year-old An signed off with a 3-under 67 in the weather-delayed final round at Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro to finish two shots behind winner Lucas Glover (68), who claimed his fifth PGA TOUR victory in the final event of the 2022-23 Regular Season.

Four other Asians -– Tom Kim, Si Woo Kim, Sungjae Im, all from Korea, and Hideki Matsuyama of Japan -– also advanced into the Playoffs, which begin with the FedEx St. Jude Championship this week (Top-70 players), followed by the BMW Championship (Top-50) and TOUR Championship (Top-30) where the FedExCup champion will be crowned at East Lake in Atlanta, and earn US$18 million.

An converted five birdies against two bogeys for his fourth top-10 of the season, and his second over his last three starts after a T3 at the Genesis Scottish Open. He made a vital par save from just over seven feet at the last hole to tie Russell Henley (69) for second place on 18-under 262.

“Looks like I’m going to come up a little bit short, but it’s obviously disappointing,” said An, whose last runner-up finish was at the 2018 RBC Canadian Open. “Performance overall today, I think it was pretty decent. I hung in there. 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.”

The former U.S. Amateur champion moved up from 52nd place to 37th and raised his season’s earnings to over US$3 million. It has been a welcome return to form for An, who played on the Korn Ferry Tour last year after losing his PGA TOUR status in 2021. He was ranked as high as 24th in the world previously and featured for the International Team in the 2019 Presidents Cup.

Back in the Playoffs for the first time since 2020, An is now targeting a first appearance in the TOUR Championship at East Lake.“That’s my goal, I guess, all my career. I never made it to East Lake. That was my goal for the year. I played just really steady golf all year. Didn’t have a really good finish until the Scottish and today. It’s trending,” he was quoted as saying by the PGA TOUR.

“That’s what me and my coach (Sean Foley) say. 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. It takes effort, it takes work. We’re heading in the right direction,” said An, whose career-best FedEx Cup finish was 33rd place in 2020.

He added his game has not felt this good since he began working with Foley at the start of 2021. “I’m playing my best golf right now. We still believe there’s room for improvement. So, I’m definitely playing better than what I did and hopefully it gets better from here,” he said.

Sungjae Im, who finished runner-up to Rory McIlroy at the TOUR Championship last year, made five birdies against three bogeys for a closing 68 to settle for tied 14th place. The result pushed him up four rungs to 32nd position on the FedEx Cup points list which enhances his hopes of making it to the Playoffs Finale for the fifth straight year.

Si Woo Kim will begin the first leg of the Playoffs in 18th position on the FedEx Cup after finishing joint 33rd at the Wyndham Championship while Japanese star Hideki Matsuyama, who missed the cut in Greensboro, enters the FedEx St. Jude Championship in 57th position as he looks to make it to the TOUR Championship for the 10th successive year to maintain his streak which is the longest amongst active players.

Rising star Tom Kim, who was forced to skip his Wyndham Championship title defence due to an ankle injury sustained while finishing runner-up at The Open Championship, expects to tee up in the Playoffs where he begins as the highest-ranked Asian at 14th position.

The 21-year-old Kim, who already holds two PGA TOUR victories, said during a broadcast interview from his Dallas home that his doctors have given him the green light to resume competition.“You know, the ankle has gotten a lot better. Obviously, it’s just not going to heal right away, but I got a thumbs up from my trainers and from my doctors. So hopefully I’ll be ready to tee up on Thursday,” he said.

–Ajit Weekly News

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