Rookie Byeong-Hun An wins record breaking “Players’ Flagship”
South Korea’s Byeong-Hun An produced one of the finest performances in the history of the European Tour’s flagship event as he cruised to victory today at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, just outside London.
An, a 23-year-old European Tour rookie, had a bogey-free final round of 65 – made up of five birdies, an eagle and 12 pars – for a record-breaking 21-under-par total of 267 and an emphatic victory by six strokes over Miguel Angel Jimenez (67), of Spain, and Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee (69). It beat the previous best score around the iconic West Course by two strokes and was a masterclass in the art of controlled golf.
On presenting An with the coveted BMW trophy, Dr Ian Robertson, Member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, Sales and Marketing BMW, said: “On behalf of BMW, I would like to congratulate Byeong-Hun An on winning this prestigious title at the BMW PGA Championship. It has been another record-breaking tournament, with a new tournament scoring record, two hole-in-one awards, more prize money than ever before and record attendances. The players have once again treated us to some fantastic golf at the Wentworth Club.
“In the eleven years that BMW has been supporting the “Players’ Flagship” as title partner, the BMW PGA Championship has developed superbly and has further enhanced its reputation. We are very proud of this, and it underlines the high standards that BMW consistently sets itself as a global golf player. I would like to thank the European Tour and the Wentworth Club for organising a wonderful tournament.”
Among the many highlights of a sun-kissed week, in which a record 113,640 fans poured through the gates of Wentworth, was Englishman Chris Wood’s hole-in-one at the 14th hole of the final round that scooped him the most desired of prizes – a stunning €150,000 BMW i8 that he could not resist sitting in before heading to the green to retrieve his ball.
Wood (66), who finished fourth, said: “When we have a practice round we look at the car and think, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice, a BMW i8?’ You never think it’s going to happen to you. I hit a great shot, a 7-iron (from 160m) and there was a delayed reaction because there were two cheers. One sounded like it had just missed and the second one told me it had gone in.”
Prior to this year, no player had driven off with a car for landing an ace at a par-three at the BMW PGA Championship. This time around, two players achieved the feat – England’s Andrew Johnston, who won a sparkling BMW M4 for a hole-in-one at the 10th in the first round, and Wood. Incredibly, there were five holes-in-one recorded during the week, including one from the evergreen Jimenez, whose ace at the 2nd hole of his third round was his third of the season and the tenth of his European Tour career – a tour record.
The day truly belonged to An, however. He had started the final round sharing the lead with Francesco Molinari, on 14 under par, but led the Italian by three strokes at the turn and then proceeded to leave all his rivals in his wake. Whereas Molinari fell away with a round of 74, An soared to rarefied heights, giving a superb exhibition of iron play, putting and the short game. Out in 33, he came home in 32 for the lowest round of the day and picked up a first prize of €833,330 for his superb efforts.
“There are a lot of famous names on the trophy, so it’s great to have my name on it, too,” said An, who, at 17, became the youngest winner of the US Amateur Championship. “I was trying to make it feel like a practice round, with so many people watching me. I was nervous but just stuck to my plan and focused on every shot. I knew I’d done it when I birdied the 15th. I was six ahead with three holes to play.”
Martin Kaymer led the German challenge, finishing tied 18th on six under par after a round of 69. The reigning US Open champion said: “I had super playing partners this week and really enjoyed the event. We are in the nicest hotel we stay in all year and the golf course was great fun. It has been a great week.”
BMW Golfsport Ambassador Max Kieffer finished on four under par after a 71 and said: “I have gained a lot of experience in my two years on the tour, but you are still that little bit more nervous at this tournament. There are so many spectators, so many big names in the field, and there is an enormous amount of prize money at stake. I am pleased with the way I handled the pressure.“