Korean golfer ace ready to emulate parents Olympic feat

  • AFP, Troon,United Kingdom
  • Updated: Jul 16, 2016 12:39 IST
Byeong Hun An of Korea putts on the 8th green. (AP)

Korean golfer An Byeong-hun is hoping he can win an Olympic medal on the sport’s return to the Games and emulate what his parents managed in table tennis.

The 24-year-old -- who first gave notice of his talent by becoming the youngest golfer to win the US Amateur in 2009 -- says achieving that goal will not be easy despite so many top players missing from the field in Rio.

Among those giving the Games a miss -- which has placed the sport’s future at the quadrennial sporting extravaganza in peril -- are the top four in the world, Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy.

An, speaking after ensuring he made the cut at the British Open at Royal Troon on Friday as he lies on two under, said he will push to the back of his mind his father Ahn Jae-Hyung and his Chinese mother Jiao Zhimin won men’s doubles bronze and women’s singles bronze and doubles silver at the 1988 Games in Seoul.

“Oh, that will be pretty big,” said An responding to a question about even winning gold and how much that would mean.

“There are a lot of good players playing. Although some people pulled out, still got the best field in the world, I think.

“Like I said, it’s a normal PGA Tour event, I’m thinking of it that way.

“Going down and playing in a limited field. But a win is a win and a medal is a bonus.

“But I hope I can get a medal by trying to play like a regular PGA Tour. I don’t want to put extra pressure on myself.”

An’s parents -- who have been very supportive of his career with Ahn moving with him to the USA when he was a student whilst his mother earned money in China to pay the expenses -- he said will be travelling with him to Brazil.

However, if he had hoped for some advice on how to prepare for the special atmosphere an Olympics engenders then he would have been disappointed.

“We didn’t say anything about making the team,” he said.

“All we talked about is, did you get your flu shot or did you get your immunisation shots? That’s about it about the Olympics.

“We didn’t really talk about anything else.”

Despite the lack of chat about the Games An says competing at the Olympics as they did is special.

“I have a chance to play in the Olympics and they played,” said An.

“That’s definitely more special than any other guys because my parents played in the Olympics. That’s what makes it more special, definitely.”

As for the immediate task ahead An said he hoped the weather would improve from Friday’s wind and showers which could give him a chance to move up the leaderboard.

“Hopefully the weather is going to be nice,” he said.

“Tomorrow I heard it should be better. But it’s one of the courses you can go really low if there’s no wind or no rain.

“I’m still 8-back (from leader Phil Mickelson), but I’ve got a long ways to go, but I’ve got two more days. Just try to have some fun.”

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