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Golf: Korea’s ‘Big Ben’ named European Tour Rookie of the Year

 Ben An won the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth Club in May. Photo: Getty Images.

Ben An won the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth Club in May. Photo: Getty Images.

December 4, 2015: An Byeong-hun has written his name into The European Tour history books by becoming the first Korean winner of the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year Award, while also being named Challenge Tour Graduate of the Year.

 

The USA-based Korean, more commonly known on Tour as Ben, made a significant impact early in his maiden campaign in The Race to Dubai by sealing a first European Tour title at the prestigious BMW PGA Championship in May.

 

An, 24, produced scintillating golf throughout the week, but crucially on the final day when he carded a seven-under-par 65 to claim a six-shot victory and break the record for the lowest winning score with a 21-under-par total of 267. He became only the second rookie in history to win the BMW PGA Championship.

 

An went on to produce an impressive finish to the 2015 campaign – claiming top-four finishes in three of the four Final Series events – to secure seventh place in The 2015 Race to Dubai.

 

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime achievement. I worked very hard for this and played great last season. There were a lot of other good rookie players, so to win the award is very special,” said the 6-foot 1-inch An, who in 2009 became the youngest winner of the US Amateur Championship at the age of 17.

 

“I’ve seen the other names who have won this award over the years and I’ve joined a list of great players. It’s great to be part of that history. I’m the first Asian to win it and hopefully it will help bring more Asian players to play on the European Tour.

 

“A lot of guys ask me if The European Tour is good to play on and I always say one hundred per cent yes. Hopefully I will lead the way for many more.”

 

Keith Pelley, Chief Executive of The European Tour, said: “I would like to congratulate Ben on a remarkable season which is given a fitting ending with the confirmation of him as the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year.

 

“The award itself has an illustrious history and includes among its winners Major champions Tony Jacklin, Sir Nick Faldo, Sandy Lyle, José María Olazábal and Martin Kaymer alongside eight time European Tour No. 1 Colin Montgomerie. I have no doubt that Ben will follow in their footsteps and forge a great career in the game.”

 

Source: The European Tour (www.europeantour.com); Editing by SportAsia

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