Korea’s Byeong Hun An posted a solo third place finish at the Wells Fargo Championship on Sunday following a stellar final round of 5-under 66 to set himself up for a strong showing at the upcoming PGA Championship, the year’s second major.

The 32-year-old An hit an impressive seven birdies against two bogeys at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, North Carolina to post his career best score in the US$20 million tournament as he finished a distant eight shots back of runaway winner, Rory McIlroy, who claimed his 26th career PGA TOUR victory and fourth Wells Fargo Championship title. McIlroy fired a stunning 65, which included a double bogey on his last hole, to win by five from Xander Schauffele (71), the leader over the first three days.

“My game felt good all week,” said An. “Hit it pretty solid, I drove the ball really well and that’s what you need on this golf course. Putted pretty decent this week, putted actually pretty good, I saved a lot of pars out there. It wasn’t playing easy as the scores (show). I mean, apart from Rory’s, it’s a pretty tough swing out there. But I’m very happy with my game. I had a shaky start, but I grinded my way through and I made some birdies on the way in,” added the 32-year-old, who totaled nine-under for the week.

His fifth top-10 of the season, and second in successive weeks after a T4 in THE CJ CUP Byron Nelson last weekend, extended an exciting run of form for An, who had lost his PGA TOUR card in 2021 before rebuilding his game under coach Sean Foley. He moved up to sixth place in the FedExCup standings to solidify his bid to qualify for the FedExCup Playoffs Finale, the TOUR Championship – exclusive to the top-30 – for the first time in his career. He is also a strong contender to qualify for the Paris Olympic Games in August and make the International Team for the Presidents Cup against the U.S in September.

An cannot wait to return to the PGA Championship which starts at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky on Thursday as it will be his first appearance since 2021 in the year’s second major. The PGA Championship holds great significance for Asian golf as Korea’s Y.E. Yang became the first male Asian golfer to win a major at the 2009 edition at Hazeltine.

With An’s putting being on point where he ranked first in Strokes Gained: Putting at Quail Hollow and gained nearly 8 strokes against the field, he is feeling upbeat. “Yeah, a lot (of confidence). Every week, I feel like my game’s there, just need some looks here and there, make some putts.

“But putting part definitely showed up this week. I like playing these type of golf courses. It’s pretty tough, you’ve got to grind your way through and you can’t really bail out on any of the shots. I had a good finish last week, I’ve been playing well this season and this third place definitely helps.”

Compatriot Sunjgae Im, who started the final round four shots off the lead, endured a tough front nine 39 before salvaging his day with birdies on 11 and 12 for a 73 to finish tied fourth alongside Australian Jason Day. It was his second top-10 of the season after a tied fifth at the season-opening The Sentry in Hawaii, and moved him up to 27th place in the FedExCup rankings. Si Woo Kim closed with a 70 for a share of 16th place while Tom Kim came home in 76 to settle for T47.

World No. 2 McIlroy produced a stunning burst of golf by hitting two eagles and four birdies over an eight-hole stretch from Hole No. 8 to breeze to his second win of the season. He had teamed up with compatriot Shane Lowry to win the Zurich Classic of New Orleans just a few weeks ago. He ended his week on 17-under despite a double-bogey on his last hole.

The 35-year-old Northern Irishman, who will now be hoping to win his fifth major at Valhalla which was the site of his last major victory 10 years ago, said:  “You know, that was a big moment on 7. I three-putted, Xander made an eagle. Then Xander was inside me on 8, I knew I really needed to hole that putt just to try to stay or keep up with him. Then he missed his, I birdied mine and then I just went on a run that for whatever reason I’m able to go on at this golf course. Quail Hollow, Charlotte in general has been really good to me over my career and this is just another great day to sort of add to all the rest of them.”

Final-Round Notes – Sunday, May 12, 2024

Weather: Sunny. High of 77. Wind NW 5-12 mph.

Final-Round Leaderboard

1Rory McIlroy67686765267 (-17)
2Xander Schauffele64677071272 (-12)
3Byeong Hun An70687166275 (-9)
T4Jason Day68677370278 (-6)
T4Sungjae Im68686973278 (-6)
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