Korean golf star Byeong Hun An has mastered several new skills over the past few months, from playing home daddy to producing his own YouTube channel. By next week, he hopes the skills that matter most will show up again when the PGA TOUR returns to action at the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas.
“I can’t wait to get back out,” said An, who is currently ranked 23rd on the FedExCup points list. “After a three-month break, I just want to get back at it, that’s what I’m looking forward to the most.”
While his diaper changing ability has significantly improved following the arrival of his first-born son, Sunwoo Stanley, in February, the former U.S. Amateur champion estimates his golf game is currently between 70 percent to 80 percent. An has been able to practice at Lake Nona in Orlando for much of the lockdown due to COVID-19 and he will not be surprised if some initial rust creeps into his game when he returns into competition mode.
“The nerves on the first hole … that’s always the hardest. I guess our short game will be affected from the lack of competition. It will take a few days. You’ll see some rust but once we get into the events, it’ll come. The first event is probably the warm-up to get going. I’m actually hitting it okay right now,” said An, who called on coach David Leadbetter for a practice session two weeks ago to sharpen his game ahead of resumption.
An was on a roll before the season came to a temporary halt. Through 13 starts since last fall, he notched five top-10s, with a season-best finish of third place at the Sanderson Farms Championship. An also tied for fourth at The Honda Classic in March, where he watched close friend and fellow Presidents Cup member Sungjae Im secure his maiden PGA TOUR win.
“I don’t need the motivation,” An said. “I’ve played long enough and I want to win as anyone else on TOUR. Sungjae is a countryman and everyone knew he’s a great player and he was going to win. I want to see more Koreans winning on TOUR which is nice and I hope it would be me next. It’s hard to win out here.” said An, who has three career runner-up finishes on the PGA TOUR.
“This has been a good year with a few top-10s,” he added. “I want to keep it going and play in the FedExCup and get into (my first) TOUR Championship, which is my goal. That’s why I played in a few events at the start of the season and the benefits that come with getting into TOUR Championship is great, so that’s the goal. As to winning, it is the ultimate. Winning will be a dream.”
An has kept himself occupied during golf’s shutdown. With the arrival of his baby boy, the break has proven to be a blessing in disguise as it allowed him to spend quality family time with wife Jamie and their newborn.
An also launched his own YouTube channel, aptly titled ANmazing Golf, where he has produced mainly instructional pieces almost entirely on his own. He now has more than 8,500 subscribers and the highest single video views stands at more than 113,000 views. Since mid-March, he has produced 28 videos for his channel.
“I watched a lot of YouTube videos before the pandemic. And since we didn’t have any tournaments to play, I wanted to keep interacting with my fans and create my own channel,” he said. “It’s mainly sharing golf tips and clinics as the golf course was open or I could film in my backyard. I think my fans have loved it but when the season resumes, I probably won’t be able to post as frequently It’s been fun. I’ve learned to edit the videos myself … I do all the effects, subtitles and editing and I’m glad many people are enjoying the videos.”
An’s internet success, coupled with an abundance of family time, has helped him make the most of his time off the course.
“The best thing that has happened is spending all these time with my son and wife. We had our baby a month before all this happened, so we got lucky in a sense and I got to see how he grew up and I saw every moment,” he said. “He changes like every two days. You see changes in how he reacts, how he giggles, how he smiles when he wakes up. His clothes are getting smaller which shows he’s growing. It’s pretty cool to experience this. If I’m travelling I won’t see this development. I’m having a good time even though I’m not playing tournaments.”