“It’s disappointing, but I’m playing well so far.”
Byung-hoon Ahn, 33, has shrugged off the disappointment of missing out on his first career win on the U.S. Professional Golf Association (PGA) Tour and has high hopes for his performance this season.
Byung-hoon Ahn carded an eagle, six birdies and two bogeys to finish at 17-under-par 263 in the final round of the PGA Tour’s Sony Open ($8.3 million purse) at Waialae CC (par 70-7044 yards) in Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S., on Friday, falling in a three-way playoff with Grayson Murray and Keegan Bradley (USA).
Ahn, who turned pro in 2011 and played on the European Tour before moving to the PGA Tour full-time in the 2016-2017 season, came close to his first win in his 182nd career event but had to settle for a fifth career runner-up finish after two disappointing putts. With the $787,000 prize money, Ahn moved to second on the FedExCup standings behind last week’s season-opening The Sentry winner Chris Kirk (USA).
Starting the day in a three-way tie for fourth and five shots off the lead after 17 holes, Ahn had a 4.5-meter eagle putt opportunity at the par-5 18th, where he was one up and two down, but missed it left. In the extended playoff on the 18th, Ahn put his third shot 1.2 meters behind the hole to give himself the most advantage, but after a 12-meter birdie putt from his head went in, he missed the birdie putt under great pressure and hung his head once again.
“I didn’t get off to the best start today with two bogeys, but I overcame them well,” Ahn said in his official interview. I played well on the 18th and in the extensions, but I had a bad putt that could have happened anywhere on the 73rd,” he said, adding, “I’m very disappointed, but that can’t be helped.” “I think I’m playing well so far. Taking the pressure off every round and being grateful is the biggest thing that has made a difference. I’ve been training hard during the off-season, and even if there are shaky rounds, I’m overcoming them and getting good results, which is the biggest change.”
Ahn, who jumped eight spots to No. 52 in the world after finishing a career-best fourth in last week’s opening event, jumped 13 spots to No. 39 in today’s world rankings. He needs to be in the world’s top 50 by the end of March to qualify for the Masters, the first major of the season.
Grayson Murray dramatically moved into a share of the lead with an 18th-hole birdie and then roared in a 12-meter birdie putt in the extended playoff that had just a 5 percent chance of making the cut. Murray, who has overcome alcoholism and is now 2-for-2 since the 2017 Barbasol Championship, earned $1.49 million in prize money, a spot in the Masters Tournament and a spot on the All-Season Order of Merit.
First-time starters Lee Kyung-hoon and Kim Sung-hyun finished tied for 30th (9-under 271), while last year’s winner, Siu Kim, finished tied for 42nd (8-under 272).