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Golf: Korea’s An tops Asia’s Open challenge; Thongchai in the red

An Byeong-hun, 22, closed with an even-par 72 as the Korean finished 26th at The Open Championship with a four-under total at Royal Liverpool.

An Byeong-hun, 22, closed with an even-par 72 as the Korean finished 26th at The Open Championship with a four-under total at Royal Liverpool. Photo: AFP.

July 21, 2014: Korean youngster An Byeong-hun closed with an even-par 72 on Sunday to tie for 26th in The Open Championship, finishing as Asia’s top performer at Royal Liverpool Golf Club with a four-under total of 284.

 

The Florida-based 22-year-old posted rounds of 72, 71, 69 and 72 as he competed at the weekend of a major for the first time. Having won the 2009 US Amateur Championship when he was only 17, An competed in the first three majors of 2010, but missed the cut each time.

 

Japan No. 1 Hideki Matsuyama (69-74-73-71), compatriot Koumei Oda (69-77-74-67) and Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee (72-72-72-71) all shared 39th place after finishing one-under in the year’s third major.

 

After three 72s, Thongchai was delighted to put up some red numbers on the board with a closing round of one-under-par. The three-time Asian Tour Order of Merit winner birdied the closing hole to end his campaign on a high note after trading four birdies against as many bogeys.

 

“I played solid, holed a lot of short putts. I had a good round,” Thongchai said. “I made a couple of long ones and had one chip-in birdie on 15. I probably played my best round of the week. It’s nice to finish one-under for the tournament. I enjoy playing on a links course, for sure.”

 

Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee closed with a 71 after three rounds of 72. Photo: Asian Tour.

Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee closed with a 71 after three rounds of 72. Photo: Asian Tour.

Playing in front of huge crowds, the 44-year-old said no other event in the world offered the electrifying atmosphere around the final green as he delivered a closing birdie.

 

“It was amazing walking up the 18th. With good weather like this, you can see the crowds are out here in numbers. Even when I walked up to the first hole, it was massive. Unbelievable really,” said Thongchai, who was World No. 34 going into the event.

 

“This tournament has the biggest crowds and I’d love to come back here. With the big grandstands, you feel proud to be playing in front of them. It’s fun.”

 

After leaving Bangkok on May 3 for his European summer sojourn, which has seen him win in Sweden and finish top-five in France and Germany, the former Thai paratrooper was looking forward to a short break before resuming his chase for glory in the US at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and PGA Championship.

 

“I’m feeling a bit tired as I’ve played a lot of golf. I’ll stay in London for a week and then head over to the WGC and PGA before going home for a break,” he said. “I need to be off for a week before I play again. I’ll probably not touch my clubs for four days. It’s important to keep fresh and keep the body strong.”

 

Thongchai said he would consider scaling down his international travels to ensure he is always in tip-top condition for the big events.

 

“The scheduling is very important. I’m trying to cut it down a bit, trying to ensure I play the big tournaments on the Asian Tour as well and being out here. You have to plan well especially in the end of the year when there are big events. You have to cut down some events eventually.”

 

For more information, visit: www.theopen.com

 

Source: Asian Tour (www.asiantour.com); Editing by SportAsia

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