The 28-year-old is a late replacement for Australia’s Jason Day who pulled out following a back injury and An said he did not hesitate one bit in accepting captain Ernie Els’ call to board the flight to The Royal Melbourne Golf Club.
“Yeah, I got a phone call twice, unfortunately and fortunately. First one was saying I’m not in (for the captain’s picks). It was a tough call. Obviously I was disappointed, but I never thought I would get a second call in the previous week, they said – well, you can tell me to get lost but we need you on the team. I was like, I’ll go down and play. I’m here and I’m looking forward to my first Presidents Cup,” said An.
A former U.S. Amateur Championship winner, the Korean joins his International teammates in Australia in solid form following three top-10s in his last six PGA TOUR starts.
The International Team, under Els’ leadership for the first time, is desperate to turn the tables on a Tiger Woods-led U.S. Team and An is prepared to fight till the last drop of sweat for his country, captain and team.
“I was looking forward to this moment in the last five years, and I’m finally here. Especially playing for Ernie, we know how much he wants this badly. We’ve had loads of team meetings, and you can see by the (team) logo we’ve come out with, the International Team logo, it shows how passionate we are,” said An.
“We’ve had more team meetings than last two Presidents Cups, that’s for sure. I think we all know what he wants and what we want. It will be exciting.”
“Ernie’s trying to make us feel comfortable. We have a lot of rookies and everybody seems like they are having a good time. Ernie keeps telling us you’re the best players in the world and you have a chance to compete against the U.S. Team.
“A good start helps but we know our abilities. If we play our golf, it’s going to be close. We’ve got to get a hot start (on Thursday’s Four-Ball). Definitely we need some points so we have a chance on Sunday because two years ago, that wasn’t the case.”
Being part of the youngest ever International Team – the average age is 28.9 – An is amongst seven rookies in the squad but he is confident fellow debutants Haotong Li, C.T. Pan, Abraham Ancer, Cameron Smith, Joaquin Niemann and compatriot Sungjae Im will rise to the occasion against the powerful Americans, who have won the last seven editions of the Presidents Cup.
“I think the team’s great, not just because I’m playing it,” he laughed. “We have so many young guys , I was very surprised, I’m like the seventh-oldest guy on the team. I’m not that young, but I didn’t feel this old. This team, I’m kind of one of the old ones. It’s very exciting,” said An.
He is also rallying the home fans to get behind him and the International Team as he replaced the injured Day. “Hopefully I can be as good as him (Day) and try to get as many points as he’s done in the past. It could be extra pressure because you’re in and Jason is not. I’ll try my best. I know I’m playing decent golf and as long as I play my golf, I think we have a very good chance.”