S. Korean golfer An Byeong-hun credits boxing with paving path back to PGA Tour

SEOUL– Trying to make it back to the PGA Tour after dropping to the second-tier circuit, South Korean golfer An Byeong-hun built his new workout routine around an unfamiliar sport: boxing.

What An did with boxing apparently worked, as the former U.S. Amateur champion will be back on the big stage for the 2022-2023 season, following his one-year stint on the Korn Ferry Tour.

“I’ve never boxed previously, and I don’t like running. Boxing is much more fun and it’s fun to use it as a workout,” An said in a recent interview, with the PGA Tour providing the script on Wednesday. The new PGA Tour season begins with the Fortinet Championship this week at Silverado Resort and Spa’s North Course in Napa, California, where An will be one of three South Koreans.

“That’s why we added that in and it kind of increased my hand speed and it’s helped my upper body movements,” An went on. “I’ve never really worked out during the season but this year, I’ve been working out at least two or three times a week, even when I’m traveling.”

An, who turns 31 on Saturday, is no grey beard, but he said he felt an increasing need to exercise more regularly as he got older.

“When I was younger, I didn’t need all that work and I still felt great,” he said. “But as I get older, I have to do the work I haven’t done before to play longer.”

An starts his day around 7 a.m. every day and works out three to four times a week. On the days when he is not exercising in the morning, he punches heavy bags for about 30 minutes. He also fasts for 18 hours, not eating anything between 6 p.m. and noon the following day.

An built his new routine after falling to the Korn Ferry Tour by finishing 164th in the 2020-2021 FedEx Cup standings, where only the top 125 kept their PGA Tour cards. A member of the International Team at the 2019 Presidents Cup and the 2016 Olympian for South Korea, An won the LECOM Suncoast Classic in February on the Korn Ferry Tour. It was his first PGA Tour-sanctioned victory.

An only had one other top-10 finish and missed nine cuts in 20 tournaments. But the lone win was enough to place him 13th on the “Korn Ferry Tour the 25” rankings. After each season, the top 25 players on the Korn Ferry points standings earn their PGA Tour cards for the following campaign.

“My goal was to get my card back. At the back of my mind, I asked, ‘Would I get it back this year or how long is it going to take to get my card back? Or if you’re going to be here (on the Korn Ferry Tour) for the next couple of years'” An said. “You never know but I’ve always said I’m going to try and work hard during the offseason and I felt I was ready. I was prepared.”

A bout with COVID-19 in the first week of January was a frustrating setback for An, who was forced to miss the first tournament of the year. But then he won his third event of the season in February, and it set him up nicely for the rest of the season.

“I didn’t know I was going to win that early in the season as it was only my third event. I wouldn’t say it was totally unexpected but it was nice to get that win early and lock my PGA Tour card,” An said. “It’s something I can be very proud of myself as I achieved my goal early.”

All of that points back to An’s off-the-course workouts.

“My schedule on every single day, even on Christmas, I was practicing and I didn’t think I took a day off, unless the golf course was closed,” An said. “My trainer and I are working very hard on my strength and I’ve gained a lot of distance. It’s not because we’re trying to hit it harder but it’s the things we’re doing off the golf course.”

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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