Byeong-Hun (Ben) An
Sport: Men's Golf (August 11-14)
Country: South Korea
Birthday: September 17th, 1991 (age 24)
Hometown: Seoul, South Korea (moved to the United States in 2005)
Cal affiliation: former California Golden Bears golfer, turned pro in summer of 2011
Years at Cal: 2010/2011
Olympic appearances: This is An’s first Olympic appearance, Golf just returned to the Olympic games for the first time since 1904
Byeong-Hun An, who was known as Ben An during his one year at Cal was the most accomplished amateur golfer to ever commit to the Cal men’s golf program. Ben won the U.S. Amateur in 2009, becoming the youngest ever to win that prestigious event at age 17. He played in the PGA Tour event, the Arnold Palmer Invitational, in the March of 2010 and then played in the 2010 Masters before starting his Cal career that fall.
Unfortunately for Ben and the Golden Bears, his NCAA career ended on a weird note. Ben had to withdraw from the last round at the NCAA Championships due to an illness that forced him to go to the hospital. Ohio Bear wrote more about that 2011 NCAA Championship here.
More from his Cal Bears bio:
Earned honorable mention All-Pac-10 honors, was the team's Newcomer of the Year and picked up one of the club's first-year `Big C' awards ... played in 13 of 14 events but did not miss the Pac-10 Championship and withdrew after two of three stroke-play rounds at the NCAA Championship in his lone season at Cal before going pro during the summer following the campaign ... posted the team's fourth-lowest stroke average with a 72.9 mark, totaling 2,772 strokes over 38 rounds ... stroke average had been as low as 71.8 after the team's first nine events ... Cal's top finisher three times (The Prestige at PGA West, Alister MacKenzie Invitational, NCAA Arizona Regional) ... posted a team-high six top-10 showings ... top finish came when he tied for second overall at Alister MacKenzie Invitational (65-64-69 - 198, -15) hosted by Cal after that came in the tournament immediately following a third-place showing at The Prestige at PGA WEST (70-73-68 - 211, -5), both Cal team wins ... tied for fourth at NCAA Arizona Regional (73-69-66 - 208, -5) to lead Cal to a third-place finish and a second consecutive trip to NCAA Championship, with his five-under par 66 during the event's final round ranking as the best score of the day and tied for the third-best round of the tournament ... tied for fifth at prestigious Southern Highlands Collegiate Masters (72-69-75 - 216, E) ... tied for sixth at Windon Memorial Classic (73-70-69 - 212, -1) ... tied for eighth at John A. Burns Intercollegiate (72-70-68 - 210, -6) ... tied for 17th at U.S. Collegiate Championship (75-69-75 - 219, +3) ... 66th at ASU Thunderbird Invitational (71-78-79 - 228, +15) ... tied for 66th in collegiate debut at Olympia Fields/Fighting Illini Invitational (74-76-77 - 227, +17) ... tied for 87th at Western Intercollegiate (80-82-76 - 238, +28) ... played in the top spot in the lineup at NCAA Championship (81-78-WD - 159, NA) but withdrew for the final round ... listed by Golfweek as the nation's No. 5 incoming freshman prior to the season.
Ben An currently plays on the PGA European Tour and currently (as of today, August 8th) ranked 35th in the World.
In 2016, he came close to winning a PGA tour event. An was in the playoff at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans (yes, that a weird name involving two cities...sponsored by an insurance group that takes the name of the Swiss city), but was eliminated in the first extra hole.
After he turned pro in 2011, An played in the Challenger Tour. In August of 2014, he won his first Challenger Tour event at the Rolex Trophy. Placing 3rd in the Challenger Tour at the end of that year, An moved up to the European Tour.
An won the British PGA Championship (BMW PGA Championship) in May of 2015. He joined elite company of being the only person other than Arnold Palmer (a famous golfer, not just the namesake of a refreshing drink) as winners of both the U.S. Amateur and the British PGA Championship.
In his first full year on The European Tour, An won the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year honor.
An also has a 2015 win from the Korean Tour in the Shinhan Donghae Open.
Out of the majors, An has twice made the cut in The Open Championship (British Open), placing 26th in 2014 and then 59th in 2016. An has also made the cut in the 2016 U.S. Open, placing 23rd. An has played The Masters in 2010 and 2016. He’s been in 3 U.S. Opens in 2010, 2015, and 2016. He’s played in 3 British Opens in 2010, 2014, and 2016. He’s also played in the two most recent PGA Championships in 2015 and 2016.
Just a week or so ago, An captured the 2016 Long Drive Competition with a 347-yard drive just ahead of Rory McIlroy’s 345 yard blast. An received a Gold money clip as well as $25,000 charitable donation to a charity of his choice.
More on “Ben” and his Rio Outlook:
Ben An has Olympics in his blood as both of his parents are Olympic medalists in table tennis from the 1988 Seoul games. An’s father Jae-Hyung Ahn has a Bronze from men’s doubles. An’s mother Zhimin Jiao was a former Chinese table tennis player who has the Silver in women’s doubles and a Bronze in women’s singles (The Cal Bears 2016 Rio bio for An spells the name of An’s mother as Ji-Min Cho, by the way...it is the same person but just different translations of the same name). Ben would obviously love to have an Olympic medal of his own, saying that “it would be nice if it is a Gold, one better than [the ones won by his parents].”
Given that Golf is reintroduced to the Olympics for the first time since 1904, Ben An will be the first Calympian Golfer in school history.
With many bigger named pro golfers deciding against playing in Rio, Ben An is actually the 10th highest ranked player in the field. Given the volatile nature of Golf tournament results, An is certainly capable of winning a medal in Rio.
The brand new Olympic golf course is built at the Reserva de Marapendi. There are a total of 60 golfer in the field.
Ben’s parents met because of the Olympic games. It would be great for this Olympic baby to also leave his mark in the Olympic record book by winning a medal.
Good luck to Byeong-Hun AKA Ben in Rio and GO BEARS!