Korean star Byeong Hun An is prepared to go the extra distance to check new boxes in his career milestones following a stellar season which is poised to see him qualifying for a maiden FedExCup Playoffs Finale, the TOUR Championship, and return to the Olympic Games and Presidents Cup International Team.

The 32-year-old enters this week’s US$20 million Memorial Tournament presented by Workday, a Signature event hosted by Jack Nicklaus, in some of his best form where he has notched two top-5s in his last three starts on the PGA TOUR to cement his seventh position on the FedExCup points list. The top-30 make the TOUR Championship at East Lake in Atlanta.

With the Paris Olympic Games and Presidents Cup around the corner as well, An could well sweeten his season by qualifying for the two prestigious events on the 2024 calendar. He also recently hit a career high 23rd position on the Official World Golf Ranking.

“I think I’m in the prime of my career. But my team and I still think we have a long way to go, so I’m trying to keep us up all the time. If we try hard and keep working hard, we can go up,” said An. “I’ve been very consistent this year and with only a few of events left (in the Regular Season), I wish to continue this form and earn some great results.”

This week’s showpiece, which sees 73 of the world’s best golfers gathered at Muirfield Village, has been good spot for An over the years as one of his five career runner-up finishes was achieved at the 2018 Memorial Tournament. He has four other top-25s in eight previous starts.

“From my first experience on this course, I was absolutely in love with this place. It’s beautiful and well organised. My scores have been decent here and it almost feels like Augusta National in how the golf course is set,” said An, who is searching for a first PGA TOUR win and whose best FedExCup finish was 33rd position in 2020.

“Having a good driver with longer distances make it a lot easier. With the rough, long hitters will have an advantage. The greens are fast, so the short game is also important. I liked the course layout straight away from my first experience here. It is not an easy golf course so if you’re struggling on the day, there is high chance of ending up with an over-par score.”

The next two weeks will be crucial for An to maintain his position as the top-two highest ranked Korean in the world as the qualifying cut-off for the Olympic Games will be the Monday after the U.S. Open. He is presently 26th, with Tom Kim ahead in 22nd position and Sungjae Im and Si Woo Kim lurking in 32nd and 46th position respectively. The quartet are in the field at the Memorial and U.S. Open.

“I wish to play in Paris and hope to earn a medal as well,” said An, whose parents were Olympic medalists at the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games in table tennis. “Of course it will be different for me to able to play in the Olympics with my parents being previous Olympians,” added the Korean, who had featured in Rio 2016.

Further down the road, qualifying for the International Team concludes at the BMW Championship, the second of three Playoffs events, and An intends to keep himself inside the top-6 of the team’s standings to earn automatic selection to face the U.S. Team at Royal Montreal in September. He made his debut in 2019 at Royal Melbourne in Australia where he played in all five sessions and contributed two points.

But for now, An knows he will keep his eye ahead of his next golf shot, which is this week’s Memorial Tournament. The tournament has been synonymous with host Jack Nicklaus waiting by the 18th greenside on the final day to shake the winner’s hand. Over the years, An has had opportunities to exchange greetings with the golf legend, and is hoping for more memorable exchange this time around.

“I had a chance to say hello to him a couple of times but nothing special,” he said.

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