Korea’s An finishes 2nd for fifth time; consistent Indian-American Bhatia is 13th

Byeong Hun An of South Korea

Honolulu: It was another close finish for Korea’s Byeong Hun An who finished runner-up for the fifth time on the PGA Tour, as he lost in a three-way play-off at the US$8.3 million Sony Open in Hawaii.

The 32-year-old An closed the week with a stellar 6-under 64 at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu for a 17-under total. That got him into a three-man playoff with Keegan Bradley (67) and eventual winner, Grayson Murray (67). As An missed a four-footer to extend the play-off, Murray buried a 38-foot birdie putt in extra time to claim his second career victory.

Indian-American Akshay Bhatia continued his steady run as he logged his second Top-15 finish with his eighth successive under par round. After finishing T-14 at The Sentry, he was T-14 and he was T-13 at the Sony Open.

Despite the disappointment, An expressed gratitude as he continued his search for a maiden PGA TOUR victory.

China’s Carl Yuan was also in the running following a gutsy 63 despite a costly bogey on the 17th which saw him finish one shot outside the playoff. He ended tied for fourth place.

An’s finish at the Sony Open was his fifth career runner-up finish on the PGA TOUR, and his second top five in successive weeks after finishing solo fourth at The Sentry in Maui last Sunday.

Even as he looked back at some missed putts, including a 13-foot eagle attempt on 18 in regulation and his birdie miss on the first extra hole after watching Murray hole his long range attempt, An put it all into perspective.

“It just feels very disappointing. Came down to the last putt,” said An, who moves up to second place in the FedExCup points list. “I didn’t have the best start with a bogey, birdie, bogey, missed some short ones out there. Hung in there, had a good run in the middle and finished off with pretty good birdies at the end.

“I made some silly mistakes yesterday, today, and over the last four days, so it’s really – I’m not trying to blame the last putts, but obviously it comes down to that. Overall, I had a solid week. I feel like I played well all around. It wasn’t too bad,” added An, who should return into the world’s top-50 for the first time since March, 2020 when the ranking is updated.

Murray, like last week’s winner Chris Kirk, overcame alcoholism to come back and win on the Tour. He was over the moon at his return to the winner’s circle after his first triumph in 2017 during his rookie season. “That a lot of hard work pays off. It’s not easy, you know. I want to give up a lot of times, give up on myself, give up on the game of golf, give up on life at times,” he said.

“This is a silly game. Hats off to Ben (Byeong) and hats off to Keegan for a well-played event. Unfortunately one person has to win, and that’s the way it goes in the playoffs. But I’m very pleased. I knew I had to give it (his birdie putt) a chance. I wasn’t going to leave it short. Obviously 100 percent of the putts that you leave short don’t go in. I just gave it my best stroke, and obviously it went in.”

Taiga Semikawa slips on final day

Japan’s Taiga Semikawa suffered an early double bogey and it dealt a blow to his hopes of a big breakthrough on the PGA Tour. He shot 2-over 72 and finished T-30.

Entering the final day just three shots behind the leader, the 23-year-old managed only a two-over-par 72 at the crucial moment, missing the chance to secure at least a top-10 finish at the Waialae Country Club in Honolulu.

Semikawa shared the 30th position with Hideki Matsuyama, the 2022 winner, and Ryo Hisatsune, with a total of nine-under 271. Another JGTO member, Yuto Katsuragawa, concluded his campaign with a strong 67, finishing at T74, which is six spots higher than where he started.

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