Heartbreak, then joy for Presidents Cup rookie An

Melbourne (AFP) –


It has been a rollercoaster ride for An Byeong-hun, and the Presidents Cup hasn't even started.

The South Korean received a heartbreaking call from International team skipper Ernie Els in November to tell him he had missed the cut as a captain's pick.

Then Australian Jason Day was forced out by a back injury and the phone rang again.

"I got a phone call twice, unfortunately and fortunately," said An on Tuesday as he prepared to make his Presidents Cup debut at Royal Melbourne against the Tiger Woods-led Americans.

"First one was saying I'm not in. It was a tough call. Obviously I was disappointed.

"I never thought I would get a second call, and last 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."

A former US Amateur Championship winner, An earned his spot on the team following three top-10s in his last six PGA Tour starts.

He is one of seven rookies in the 12-man team -- the youngest ever assembled by the Internationals with an average age of just under 29.

He is confident that fellow debutants Li Haotong, CT Pan, Abraham Ancer, Cameron Smith, Joaquin Niemann and compatriot Im Sung-jae will rise to the occasion.

"I was very surprised, I'm like the seventh-oldest guy on the team," said the 28-year-old.

"Ernie has been great. The team, I think everyone has their own partners. We know who we're playing with. We were all excited, so we're very looking forward to Thursday, Friday, going into the weekend, so we'll see."

Mexico's Ancer is also making his bow at the team matchplay showdown, having qualified automatically. He is equally excited and buzzing from the team atmosphere in camp.

"I think everybody is really excited. I've been talking to a lot of friends. Some of them made the trip. Saw a couple of Mexican flags out there on the golf course, which is awesome," he said after a practice round on Tuesday.

"And everybody's excited. Obviously, I want to perform really, really well for my country. But not only for that, the family, but also my teammates and then my captain."

But he also admitted to nerves ahead of such a big event.

"It's going to be a lot of people, a lot of expectation, obviously. And just the nerves of playing in your first Presidents Cup, I think is normal and I want that," he said.

"I want to feel the nerves. I want to see how I do under the gun. And I think it's going to be a great week."