An shines in front of record crowd

LOS ANGELES • South Korean golfer An Byeong Hun fired six birdies to card a six-under 65 on Saturday and take a one-shot lead over Scot Martin Laird at the PGA Tour's Phoenix Open.

An, the overnight co-leader, is seeking his first US Tour title, although the 25-year-old has tasted victory on the European Tour, at the 2015 BMW PGA Championship, and has won as a professional on both the Challenge and Korean tours.

"Going bogey-free, that was really crucial," he told Golf Channel, after ending his round by rolling in a 10-footer for par on the 18th green.

"Especially that putt on the last hole to get some momentum going into tomorrow.

"I played really smart... you can make bogeys out here if you're too aggressive.

"Also I'm hitting it well, so that's why I am in this position."

His 16-under total of 197 put him one stroke in front of Laird - who birdied an 11-foot putt at TPC Scottsdale's 18th to cap his own 65 for 198.

Defending champion Hideki Matsuyama remained within striking distance, carding his second-straight 68 to head a group sharing third on 201.

The world No. 5 balanced three bogeys with six birdies, including a thriller at the par-three 16th, where his tee shot settled less than two feet from the pin.

It drew roars of approval from the massive gallery.

The course is designed for huge crowds and it was another record day in that department.

Saturday's attendance was estimated at 204,906, breaking the record of 201,003 set last year, which was the first time any PGA tournament had surpassed 200,000 in terms of single-day attendance.

"It's crazy... insane," An said of the crowds. "It's pretty cool. I'd never seen people like this.

"I think it's fun, as long as nobody yells at my downswing."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 06, 2017, with the headline 'An shines in front of record crowd'. Print Edition | Subscribe