SEOUL - Korean-American John Huh, 22, was named the US PGA Tour's Rookie of the Year on Tuesday. The award is an inspiration for Korean golfers seeking to make their names on the US Tour.
The award sets a milestone for golfers of Asian heritage as well. Huh is the first Asian-American to be named the PGA Rookie of the Year since it was established in 1990.
His award is especially memorable as he is the only rookie to make it to the tour championship. Huh qualified for the tour playoff as the only rookie in the field by placing 29th at the FedEx Cup. He is the fifth rookie to have competed in the tour championship since the start of the FedEx Cup in 2007.
A remarkable performance on the tour, not to mention a title clinch, is never easy for a golfer who has just stepped out with less than a year of PGA experience, but that is what Huh managed Tuesday. He qualified in December 2011. Of course, the triumph did not come easy to him.
Huh won the Mayakoba Golf Classic in Mexico in February, where he parred all eight holes in a marathon playoff for the title.
The win was momentous for golfers on the Korean Tour not only in that he made it as a rookie but also in that there are only four Korean and Korean-American professional golfers before him to have clinched a PGA title: Choi Kyung-ju, Yang Yong-eun, Anthony Kim and Kevin Na.
His prominence on the US PGA tour in his first year was not built in a day. Before it was the Korean Tour. At age 20, he clinched the Shinhan Donghae Open in 2010 and named Korean Tour Rookie of the Year as well.
He was born in New York in 1990, but came to Korea shortly after and spent his childhood here. Then he left for Chicago as a fifth grader in elementary school.
He underwent a tough time on the way to his professional debut. He did part-time jobs at practice ranges and rode the subway with his clubs. The Rookie of the Year award, which adds to his belt of Shinhan Donghae and Mayakoba titles, must be another reward for his endurance.