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An Byeong-hun enjoys opening 70 in Masters return as leading Asian golfer

An Byeong-hun of Korea hits a tee shot on the seventh hole during the second round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard at Arnold Palmer Bay Hill Golf Course on March 8 in Orlando, Florida. [GETTY IMAGES]

Korea’s An Byeong-hun celebrated his return to the Masters Tournament with a battling 2-under 70 to share ninth place as he emerged as the leading Asian golfer on Thursday at the year’s first major. The 32-year-old An made seven birdies, including a hat-trick to start his round, against five bogeys at Augusta National, which posed a tricky test with winds swirling all day and gusting up to 56 kilometers per hour. Compatriot Tom Kim was even par through 11 holes as he was amongst 27 players who did not finish the first round which start was delayed due to inclement weather in the morning. Kim Si-woo returned a 74 while 2021 Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama struggled to a 76, with Ryo Hisatsune coming in with a 78 after enduring a baptism of fire in his Masters debut.“Yeah, not bad. It was gusty out there. It wasn’t easy,” said An, who ended the day five strokes back of the clubhouse lead. “I feel like I played great today, missed some short putts, but obviously it’s very gusty out there. It’s not easy to hit shots but also make some putts on slick greens like this. 2-under is not bad. I think it could have been a lot worse, but I also feel like it could have been a lot better. Hopefully the next three days, I’ll be playing a lot better than this.”
Making his fifth Masters start but his first since 2020, An, who is currently ranked seventh on the PGA Tour’s FedExCup points list, got off to a flying start with three opening birdies from inside of six feet with some wonderful short game play.
With conditions throwing players off their strides, the powerful Korean, who hit 13 greens in regulation, fought hard to keep himself inside the top-10 of the leaderboard, with a 43-foot birdie on six and a 22-foot conversion on 12 — both par 3s — being further highlights although he was kicking himself with two late blemishes in the day.“I’d say 16 (hole) because we saw three different winds standing on the tee box. I saw when Lucas [Glover] hit, it was slightly in. When Harris [English] hit, it was straight downwind about 25 miles. When I hit, it was a little bit into the wind. That got me a little confused and hit it in the water,” said An.“It was kind of steady, pretty strong wind. The 16th was very tricky. It was gusting back and forth. But other than that, it’s just tough out there you can see by the scores.”The best finish by a Korean at the Masters was a runner-up finish by Im Sung-jae in 2020, and An, whose best finish in four previous starts was T33 in 2017, is hoping to enjoy the luck of the draw in hope of emulating, if not improving, Im’s result. Im stood at 3-over through 14 holes when play was halted and will return Friday morning to complete his first round, before heading back out for his second round.“Yeah, good to finish it today. That’s big,” said An. “It looks quite windy tomorrow, as well, I think, but I don’t think it’ll be as strong as this. We’ll see what it does this afternoon. But I think definitely I got one of the better draws than the worse. This is all the luck you need to get, right’.”World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler, who won the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard and The Players Championship back-to-back last month, opened with a 66 as he seeks a second green jacket while five-time Masters winner Tiger Woods was 1-under through 13 holes in what is only his second tournament start of the year. Rory McIlroy, who is seeking to win the Masters for 카지노사이트킹 the first time to complete a career grand slam, opened with a 71.


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