An strengthening Presidents Cup candidacy with good start at Sanderson Farms
September 20, 2019
By Sean Martin, PGATOUR.COM
- Byeong Hun An finished 15th on the final Presidents Cup standings. (Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
JACKSON, Miss. – Byeong Hun An was born in South Korea but has lived in Florida since he was a teenager, so he’s grown to love hot weather and Bermudagrass.
That’s one reason this week’s Sanderson Farms Championship has suited him so well. After shooting back-to-back 66s, An held the lead when he walked off the Country Club of Jackson’s 18th green on Friday afternoon.
He played 25 holes Friday after lightning caused the first round to be suspended for several hours. The second round wasn’t scheduled to be completed until Saturday morning.
His good play can only help his Presidents Cup candidacy. An, who finished 15th in the International Team’s final standings, is likely on the short list of candidates for one of Ernie Els’ four picks. Those will be announced in the first week of November.
“I hope I'm way up there,” An said. “I need to step it up a little bit. It'll be nice if I make the team. That definitely was my main goal for this year and the next couple events. A decent week this week or next couple weeks definitely I think would help.”
An should earn a pick if he keeps hitting it the way he did over the first 36 holes this week. He missed just five greens and was in the top 10 in average proximity to the hole (25 feet, 4 inches).
He’s made just one bogey in two rounds, after hitting his second shot into the water on the par-5 fifth hole in the second round. He’s even par on the par-5s this week, but 11 under on the par-4s.
He could have gone even lower. Besides not taking advantage of the par-5s, he’s missed four putts from 4-8 feet this week. He’s also holed three putts from outside 15 feet.
“I've been putting a lot better the last couple events, so as long as the putts keep dropping, let's see if I can win this season,” said An, who finished 53rd in the FedExCup last season.
Ten years ago, An became the youngest U.S. Amateur champion in history. He was 17 years old when he beat Ben Martin in the final at Southern Hills, breaking a record once held by Tiger Woods. An has three worldwide wins, including the 2015 BMW PGA Championship, but is seeking his first on the PGA TOUR. He has three runners-up and one third-place finish in 97 starts on the PGA TOUR.
Last month, he held the 54-hole lead at the Wyndham Championship. It was the third time he started Sunday with the lead, and while he has yet to convert, his 67 was his lowest final round after starting the day with the lead.
He was passed by J.T. Poston’s final-round 62 at Sedgefield Country Club. Poston became the first player since Lee Trevino to win while going bogey-free over 72 holes.
Poston also is in contention at the Sanderson Farms Championship. He shot 64 to take the first-round lead, then shot 70 to sit two behind An.
An finished T47 last week in the season-opening Military Tribute at The Greenbrier. He’s playing more fall events this year after falling too far behind in the FedExCup race last season.
“That's why I decided to play last week, this week, and then these four in a row, to get a fast start,” he said. “I’m definitely heading the right way.”
J.T. Poston's 26-foot birdie chip shot at Sanderson Farms