Korea’s Sungjae Im and Byeong Hun An Continue to Make Strong Push for Presidents Cup Captain’s Picks
Korea’s Sungjae Im and Byeong Hun An have maintained their push to earn a captain’s pick for the International Team at the Presidents Cup following top-3 finishes at the Sanderson Farms Championship over the weekend.
The 21-year-old Im voted the 2018-19 PGA TOUR Rookie of the Year, finished runner-up after losing in a playoff to fellow Presidents Cup hopeful Sebastian Munoz of Colombia while An, 28, settled for third place in what was the second tournament of the 2019-20 PGA TOUR Season.
After the top-8 automatic qualifiers for the International Team did not feature a player from Korea, Im and An are among those making a push to ensure Korea is represented on the International Team. Captain Ernie Els will name his four picks in the first week of November.
The Presidents Cup will return to Melbourne, Australia, and The Royal Melbourne Golf Club for the third time, from December 9-15, 2019, where the International Team, led by Els, will take on the United States Team led by Captain Tiger Woods.
Im’s runner-up finish at the Sanderson Farms Championship was an encore to a stellar rookie season marked by 35 starts – the most on TOUR last season – and a trip to the elite 30-player field at the TOUR Championship, where he was the only rookie to qualify. He nabbed seven top-10 finishes and finished 11th in the Presidents Cup standings.
An, meanwhile, collected his second top-3 result in his last five starts. In search of his first Presidents Cup appearance, he has three career runner-up finishes on the PGA TOUR to go along with three other worldwide wins. In 2009, he became the youngest winner of the U.S. Amateur Championship at 17 years old, surpassing 2008 champion and 2015 Presidents Cup participant Danny Lee of New Zealand.
An held the 36-hole lead last week after starting with consecutive 66s and believes he is getting closer to a breakthrough victory on the PGA TOUR. “It’s still a decent week. There’s a lot of positives to take,” An said. “I know I can compete out here. I know I can win.”
His good play will help his Presidents Cup candidacy. An, who finished 15th in the International Team’s final standings, is likely on the shortlist of candidates for one of Els’ four picks. An said: “I hope I’m way up there. I need to step it up a little bit. It’ll be nice if I make the team. That definitely was my main goal for this year and the next couple of events.”
Muñoz, the second Colombian to win on the PGA TOUR after Camilo Villegas, An and Im are scheduled to return to competition at the Safeway Open this week. Other players vying for a Presidents Cup captain’s pick in the field this week who finished inside the top 30 in the Presidents Cup standings include Corey Conners, Dylan Frittelli, Emiliano Grillo, Adam Hadwin, Sung Kang, Si Woo Kim, Jhonattan Vegas and Xinjun Zhang.
On the U.S. side, those Presidents Cup hopefuls in the field who finished inside the top 30 in the Presidents Cup standings include Charles Howell III, Phil Mickelson, Kevin Na, Scott Piercy, Chez Reavie, Brandt Snedeker and Kevin Tway. Captain Woods will also have his eye on Collin Morikawa, who won in just his sixth PGA TOUR start as a professional at the 2019 Barracuda Championship.
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