Sports

An's aim

South Korean golfer hopes to emulate parents' feat at Seoul Olympics

South Korean golfer An Byeong Hun is hoping he can win an Olympic medal on the sport's return to the Games next month and emulate what his parents managed in table tennis.

The 24-year-old, who first gave notice of his talent by becoming the youngest golfer to win the US amateur title in 2009, says achieving that goal will not be easy despite so many top players missing from the field in Rio de Janerio, Brazil.

Among those giving the Games a miss, which has placed the sport's future at the quadrennial sporting extravaganza in peril, are the top four in the world - Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy.

An, speaking after he made the cut at two under at the British Open at Royal Troon on Friday, said he will push to the back of his mind what his paddler parents achieved at the 1988 Seoul Olympics.

His father Ahn Jae Hyung, now the head coach of the South Korean men's table tennis team, and his Chinese mother Jiao Zhimin won the men's doubles bronze and the women's singles bronze and doubles silver respectively.

"Oh, that will be pretty big," said An, when asked how much it would mean to win a gold medal.

"There are a lot of good players playing. Although some people pulled out, it still got the best field in the world, I think. Like I said, it's a normal US PGA Tour event, I'm thinking of it that way.

"Going down and playing in a limited field. But a win is a win and a medal is a bonus.

"But I hope I can get a medal by trying to play like a regular PGA Tour. I don't want to put extra pressure on myself."

BACKING

An's parents, who have been very supportive of his career with Ahn moving with him to the United States when he was a student while his mother earned money in China to pay the expenses, will be travelling with him to Brazil.

However, if he had hoped for some advice on how to prepare for the Olympics, then An would have been disappointed.

"All we talked about is whether I got my flu shot or immunisation shots. We didn't really talk about anything else," said An, who won the BMW PGA Championship on the European Tour last year.

Despite the lack of chat about the Games, An said that competing at the Olympics as they did is special.

"I have a chance to play in the Olympics and they played too," said An. "That's definitely more special than any other guy because my parents played in the Olympics.

"That's what makes it more special, definitely."

Unlike An, some high-profile golfers failed to make the cut at Troon.

World No. 14 Louis Oosthuizen, 17th-ranked Hideki Matsuyama and No. 27 Shane Lowry were among them.

Former champions Ernie Els, Justin Leonard, Todd Hamilton, Mark Calcavecchia, John Daly and Ben Curtis also failed to make the weekend.

South African Oosthuizen, who won golf's oldest Major at St Andrews in 2010 and recorded a hole-in-one at the short 14th on Thursday, crashed to a 12-over 83 in the second round.

The cut was at four-over 146, a score that was also too good for US trio Jimmy Walker, Billy Horschel and Scott Piercy, Britons Paul Casey and Matt Fitzpatrick, Dutchman Joost Luiten, Victor Dubuisson of France, Dane Thorbjorn Olesen and New Zealander Danny Lee. - Wire Services.

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