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With family in tow, Korea's Byeong Hun An intends to enjoy Masters return

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Byeong Hun An will make his fifth Masters appearance. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Byeong Hun An will make his fifth Masters appearance. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)



    Written by Chuah Choo Chiang @PGATOUR

    Korea’s Byeong Hun An will make his fifth Masters appearance at revered Augusta National, and a first since 2020, but the drive down Magnolia Lane will be very different and feel extra special this week.

    It will probably be a bit noisier as well in his courtesy car, with a growing family in tow.

    The 32-year-old An qualified for the season’s first major through the top 50 of the Official World Golf Ranking as of last week, which marked his second straight major appearance after he played his way into The Open Championship last summer.

    Lining up alongside the game’s elite reflects his resurgence following a mini-slump that saw him lose his PGA TOUR card in 2021.

    “It is good to be back," An said. "I have never been to the Masters with my kids and wife, and it will be my first time with them which makes it even better. I wish to put up a good showing. It is never easy going into the Masters but I feel great,” said An, who is presently ranked 44th in the world.

    When An made his Masters debut in 2010 as the reigning U.S. Amateur champion, he was wet behind the ears and 14 years on, this week will herald his 190th PGA TOUR start where he has amassed 25 career top-10s, including three this season which has propelled him to seventh place in the FedExCup points list.


    Byeong Hun An holes a 43-foot birdie putt at Arnold Palmer


    With his wife Jamie, their lives now include two young children, Sunwoo, who is 4, and Jiwoo who turned 1 last month. The growing family means that An is excited for the Par 3 Contest on Wednesday, a Masters tradition unlike any other where players and their families get to be part of the fun-filled competition. Jamie will caddie for An, while Sunwoo, who is learning to play golf, may well attempt a shot during the event.

    “Family life’s been great,” An said. “It takes your mind away from golf. After tournaments, you go back and you have kids around, you don’t have time to think about golf. Obviously, when you’re at a golf course, you want to think about golf, you want to work hard. It’s nice to have their support. It’s the best. When the family is around, there are more things to do. You go out for a walk, play with the kids or whatever. It takes the mind away from golf.”

    His new approach to life, and towards the game, has largely been instilled by swing coach, Sean Foley whom An labeled “the Gandhi of golf.”

    “He helps a lot with things away from golf," said An. "He talks about other stuff, and not just how to play. There are some things which are unteachable by other people, and he’s been a big help. I have lessons with him twice a week and we hit balls for two hours and I’ll probably hit like only 100 balls, and we talk for an hour and a half about other stuff.”

    While An has yet to win on the PGA TOUR – he has five career runner-up finishes including a playoff loss at the Sony Open in Hawaii in January – the Korean knows that lining up along the stars at Augusta National is a privilege to cherish: “I have never seen a golf course managed so well like Augusta National," he mused. "With their own traditions, there definitely is some wonderful atmosphere. Every golfer dreams of playing in the Masters, so I feel great to go back.

    “It is very special to us, golfers. I’m glad to be part of this but I don’t want to put pressure on myself. I will prepare just as other events. The focus is the same.”

    An, whose best finish from four previous starts was T33 in 2017, will have compatriots Sungjae Im, who finished runner-up at the Masters in 2020, Tom Kim and Si Woo Kim for company at the 88th playing of the Masters. It will also be a memorable week for Si Woo who will have his newborn son, Theo, in attendance with his wife and former Korean LPGA winner, Jihyun – who hit a shot at the Par 3 Contest last year.

    “I was able to participate with my wife last year, and this year, we have one more member to the family. It will be an enjoyable week for the three of us,” said Si Woo, who is a four-time PGA TOUR winner and making his eighth consecutive Masters start.

    He enters the week in good form, having not missed a single cut all season with one top-10 to go with five other top-25s.

    “I'm pretty confident going into the week," said Si Woo. "Thinking back to my first Masters (in 2017 which was the only year he missed the cut), the course was tough. But as this year is my eighth, I feel a bit more relaxed as I am getting used to the golf course."

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