January 29 2012
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
LA JOLLA, Calif. -- John Huh knows his last name conjures up a question mark, in more ways than one.
"Huh?" is often what someone says when he or she needs you to repeat yourself. This week, though, many people are asking "Huh?" and wondering who this young Korean-American is.
Huh, the PGA TOUR rookie who starts the final round of the Farmers Insurance Open in a tie for second, hopes to turn his unusual last name into a trademark of sorts.
"When I was in high school, it was pretty annoying a little bit," Huh said. "I mean, the bad point was trying to make fun of me a little bit sometimes. But it turns out it's going to be good for (me).
"I know Boo Weekley has like a 'boo' sound. I'm trying to bring that kind of, too."
So Huh would like to hear the fans yell his name like they do "Boooooooooo" or "Luuuuuuke" when Luke Donald steps to the green.
The Farmers Insurance Open is just the second PGA TOUR event of Huh's career. He never played the Nationwide Tour, either, and earned his TOUR card the hard way -- squeaking through three stages of q-school.
Consider this. Huh claimed the final spot in his first stage event in Beaumont, Texas, and then tied for eighth -- one stroke from the cutoff to advance -- in the second stage in Florida. And Huh had to birdie his final hole in the final round of the final stage at PGA West to slip into a tie for 27th and get the last of the 2012 TOUR cards.
Even with his lofty position on the leaderboard at Torrey Pines, though, the 21-year-old Huh's goals this season are modest ones.
"It's my rookie year, and I'm trying to make a cut in as many as I can and try to keep my card," Huh said. "That's it. That's my first goal ever since I went through q-school. So if I can do that, I'll be pleased with that."
Huh, who counts his father as his primary instructor, was born in New York City but he spent the first 12 years of his life in Korea. He came back to the U.S. and eventually went to high school in the Los Angeles area.
Huh had hopes of playing golf at Cal-Northridge but he didn't have enough core credits to qualify for scholarship aid under NCAA rules. So after a couple of weeks on campus, Huh decided to turn pro and began to play the Korean Tour where he earned Rookie of the Year honors.
Huh earned his first win as a pro in Korea, beating one of his idols, K.J. Choi, the reigning PLAYERS champion, at the Shinhan Donghae Open. He started the final round three strokes back but closed with a 68 to take the win.
"One hole he hit OB and I made par on that one, and it turned out that I won the tournament," Huh said. "That tournament actually gave me a lot of confidence, because I didn't really have success over there. I was just making the cut over there. But from that tournament, it was pretty big, a big tournament for me to just play there."
Imagine, then, the confidence he could gain on Sunday at Torrey Pines.