Hot shot: EDGAR interviews golf’s rising star, Ben An
South Korean golfer Ben An talks popcorn, handbags and his inspirational parents.Robert Chilton November 20, 2015
When he was growing up, Ben An’s hero was Tiger Woods. Both men turned pro at 20 and, while An’s progress has not yet matched the extraordinary heights reached by Woods, he’s doing just fine thank you very much.
A victory at the BMW PGA at Wentworth in May this year alerted the world to his talent and opened up pathways to more tournaments. Still only 24, Ben competes at the DP World Tour Championship this weekend, the climax of the European season. EDGAR spoke to the young star.
Tell us about your coach David Leadbetter. What do you like about him?
I’ve been working with David for over four years and he’s played a big part in my development. David has a tonne of experience having worked with some of the game’s very best golfers and I’ve learned so much from him. I’ve benefited from him fine-tuning my game and helping me prepare for the big events.
After going pro at age 20, who has been important in your development?
My dad has played a big part, as a sportsman himself [Ben’s parents were medallists at table tennis in the 1988 Seoul Olympics] he understands the mental side of performing to the best of your ability. He caddied for me last year on the Challenge Tour and it was great to spend so much time with him.
What does he tell you?
The main thing is just to focus on trying my best. That’s all you can do really.
Have your parents’ successful sporting careers inspired you?
It is great that they were so successful and they have been very supportive of my career. They just tell me to do my best every day, which is what I try to do.
You moved to America from South Korea age 14 – was that hard?
No, I didn’t really get homesick as I settled in the US very quickly. It was pretty cool to move to the US and get to play golf every day.
In 2009 you became the youngest player to win the US Amateur Championship at 17 – what did that do for your game?
It gave me belief that my game was good enough, but it probably came a little earlier than I had expected so it was difficult to keep progressing at that speed.
You said your victory at the BMW PGA at Wentworth in May 2015 was life changing. How?
It was life changing in the way that I played my way into events that I didn’t think I would play in my rookie season. My win at Wentworth got me into the US Open, The Open, the WGC Bridgestone Invitational and The USPGA in addition to the final four events on the Race to Dubai.
We hear you’re a Manchester United fan - have you been to Old Trafford?
I am a big Man U fan but I haven’t been to a game yet. Hopefully I’ll get to a game soon but I haven’t spent that much time in the UK during the football season so I haven’t had a chance up to now.
How important is fitness and diet to your game?
I work on my fitness mainly in the off-season and just stick to basic mobility exercises when I am on the road. As for the diet, I know what I should eat but it isn’t always easy to stick to a strict diet when I am on the road. I eat too much popcorn!
With success comes fame and money. How are you handling fame, and have you treated yourself to anything nice with your winnings?
I haven’t changed much at all. I’m just focused on my game and my development going forward. I did buy my girlfriend a handbag she wanted though.
Details: The DP World Your Championship takes place at Jumeriah Golf Estate from November 19-22. Visit dpwtc.com