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S. Korean golfer rues poor ball-striking in up-and-down round

South Korean Olympic golfer An Byeong-hun rued poor ball-striking in his up-and-down second round at the Rio de Janeiro Games Friday.

An said it was particularly disappointing because he hit the ball a lot better just the day before.

"I struggled with my shots on the front nine, and I didn't give myself a lot of birdie opportunities," An said. "I needed to make some putts to build some momentum, but it didn't happen."

An shot one-over 72 on Friday, after opening his Olympics with a 68 at the par-71, 7,128-yard Olympic Golf Course. An is at two-under 140 through two days, and is tied for 18th with three others.

The numbers bear out An's concerns. He hit 11 of 18 greens in regulation Friday, compared to 15 of 18 in the first round.

An and the rest of the 60-man field played through fickle conditions. An, who teed off at 9:25 a.m., played through heavy rains through the first seven holes. Once he reached the back nine, it was sunny and dry, like it had been on Thursday.

"It was a real mess out there, and it was a difficult situation for everyone," he said. "I was able to score better because the weather got better."

An had two bogeys but no birdie on the front nine. He didn't pick up his first birdie until the par-3 14th, where he drained a 36-footer.

It was just the kind of a turnaround that he'd been looking for all day.

"After making that long putt on the back nine, I played with more confidence," An said. "I saved par on the next hole, and then made another birdie (at the 16th)."

An is eight back of the leader, Marcus Fraser of Australia, but there are six golfers bunched up near the top of the leader board."We had a player who shot an eight-under on the first day," An said of Fraser. "There's no reason why I can't do the same. If I can play solidly the next couple of days, I will have my chances."

An talked Thursday about how the ball tends to get buried in the bunkers here. He got into three bunkers on Friday, and managed to get up and down to save par twice.

"These are some unusual bunkers, and they make this course a challenging one," An said. "I think I got used to them, though it's not something I should get used to."

(Yonhap)

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