Commercialbank Qatar Masters

An secures top-five finish at Commercial Bank Qatar Masters

Ben An Byeong-hun finished as the highest-placed Asian at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters after a brilliant closing 65 and a 15-under-par total secured a share of fifth place, for his best-ever finish on The European Tour.

Thailand No. 1 Thongchai Jaidee, a six-time European Tour winner, closed with a 69 to share 23rd place on eight-under, three shots ahead of the remainder of the Asian contingent at Doha Golf Club.

Thai slugger Kiradech Aphibarnrat shot a 69 to finish five-under and was joined by Indian duo Jeev Milkha Singh (70) and Shiv Kapur (73), with all three finishing in a group sharing 38th place.

An, the leading Asian on all four days of his tournament debut, started the final round five shots off the pace and partnered with former champion Darren Fichardt in the seventh-last group of the day.

After soaring up the leaderboard with birdies at three, four and six, the tall 23-year-old then challenged the leaders after an eagle on the par-five 10th and a birdie on 11.

Although a bogey on 15 set him back, the laid-back Korean responded with back-to-back birdies on 16 and 17 before a par at the last helped him set an early clubhouse lead.

“I still pretty well today. I'm happy with it,” said An, competing in his rookie season on The European Tour after three years on the Challenge Tour.

“If I had taken all my chances, I might have had a chance of winning. I did have many chances, but I missed a couple of birdie putts. It could have been better, but 65, I'll definitely take it.”

An finished 12th in Abu Dhabi last week and continued an excellent run of form that was kick-started by finishing as the top Asian at The Open Championship last July, before he became the first Korean to win on the Challenge Tour the following month.

“My goal was a top 10 this week and I did it, so I’m quite happy,” said An, who stands almost six-foot three-inches tall.

“It's a good start to the season, definitely. Last week I missed out on the top 10 by a shot, but I kept the momentum going.”

Having moved to the USA a decade ago and claimed the 2009 US Amateur Championship at the age of 17, An surprised many when, a year after turning pro in 2011, he started to ply his trade on the Challenge Tour in Europe. However, it all paid off last year, when he finished third in the money list to earn a full European Tour card for 2015.

“The Challenge Tour definitely helped me a lot. The last three years, I definitely felt it developed my game and definitely helped me a lot, as it helped me get prepared for the big tour.”