Byeong Hun An digs his PGA TOUR return from the dirt
June 02, 2022
By Adam Stanley , PGATOUR.COM
- Byeong Hun An has crossed the 875-point threshold to secure his PGA TOUR return via The 25. (Design by Elise Tallent/PGA TOUR)
It’s after 9 p.m. when Byeong Hun An answers the phone. It was his wife Jamie’s birthday and then their 2-year-old, Sunwoo Stanley, had to be put to bed.
Now he could talk.
An, who has reached as high as 24th on the Official World Golf Ranking and played on the International Team in the 2019 Presidents Cup, has had quite the year. He’s #TOURBound, now, but his effort in 2022 comes on the back of lots of hard work – arguably, An says, the most work he has ever put in.
“It was probably my lowest point of my career,” admits An, on losing his TOUR card last year.
“In my head I was like, ‘I have to put more work in.’”Byeong Hun An earned his first PGA TOUR-sanctioned title at the LECOM Suncoast Classic in February. (Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)
An, who was a can’t-miss junior prospect, attended the David Leadbetter Golf Academy in Florida as a youngster. In 2009 he won the U.S. Amateur, becoming the youngest winner of the championship’s history when he bested Ben Martin, 7 and 5, as a 17-year-old.
He played the Challenge Tour, won Rookie of the Year on the DP World Tour after winning the BMW PGA Championship, and then earned Special Temporary Membership amid the 2015-16 PGA TOUR season. An finished runner-up at the 2016 Zurich Classic of New Orleans, one of three second-place results on TOUR.
Last year, though, An finished 164th on the FedExCup standings and for the first time in his young career he had to mentally reset.
“I never lost my card. I worked my way up and I never came down from where I was,” said An. “Golf was easy the last couple of years. Everything was working well and improving, and I obviously tried to do a little better and I started with my full game and that’s when I lost my card last year.
“That hit me hard.”
An said this winter he worked hard with his coach on both his golf game and his fitness – and his perspective.
“My FedExCup ranking was higher and higher … and then I had a really bad year,” said An. “But last year after I lost my card I thought, ‘Maybe this isn’t too bad.’ Losing my card sucks, but it will make me an even better golfer and put a new perspective in golf and humble me a little bit.
“Losing my card last year wasn’t fun but working back up there has been really fun.”
The hard work is paying off. He “never really put in the hard work” the last couple of years, he said, but now his strong results on the 2022 Korn Ferry Tour are the rewards, along with a return trip to the PGA TOUR.
An won the LECOM Suncoast Classic in his third start of the year. In mid-April, he finished tied for second at the Veritex Bank Championship.
“Even if I wasn’t winning, (I) feel pretty comfortable on the golf course with the swing and everything,” said An. “That really helps, winning early in the season and especially as I work towards getting my card back. It gives me a lot of confidence to know that I can stick with what I’m doing.”Losing my card last year wasn't fun, but working back up there has been really fun.
An moved to the U.S. as a 14-year-old, just a kid himself. He knew then that playing golf was going to be his career path. Now An has a kid of his own. His son was born in early 2020, so with the COVID-19 pandemic shutting down the PGA TOUR, he was able to stay home for a couple of extra weeks with his newborn. That wouldn’t have been possible in a ‘regular’ year. He got to see his son and experience the challenges of raising a newborn. It has been “a fun roller coaster,” he said, as he works to balance his golf career with being a parent.
His wife, he said, does a lot of the heavy lifting.
“Last year on the golf course was the lowest point of my career,” said An, “but off the golf course, I’ve been so busy. It’s great.”
Even with his TOUR card locked up (again), goals remain for the balance of 2022. An is grinding to try and reach the No. 1 spot on The 25 and earn fully exempt TOUR status for next season. He’s trying to tighten up the little things, like trying to hit more greens and more fairways and make more putts.
“The grinding … it’s not fun, but I love seeing the progress I’m making. That’s the really positive result,” he said. “It’s been my main goal this season, to get my TOUR card back, (but) it doesn’t stop there. I have to keep playing the next couple of weeks, and trying to finish No.1 … I still have a long way to go. I have lots of work ahead.”
No doubt, though, An will enjoy that work.