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No problems for 13 year old An

Thirteen-year Jae An more than held his own against a field of professionals in the New Zealand Open.

An shot an even-par 71 Thursday in the first round on the 6,619-yard Paraparaumu Beach links and was tied for 47th place among the 144 golfers.

An earned his place in the tournament on Monday with a record round of 65 in qualifying. His achievement has sparked media interest around the world, particularly in his native South Korea from where he emigrated three years ago.

An said he slept well on the night before his debut and had a few nerves as he stepped on to the 10th tee to play his first shot in a professional tournament.

``I was all right last night,'' he said. ``I slept all right but I was a little bit nervous on the first nine. Tonight I will have a sleep. It will be more easy than today.''

An showed little emotion during a round which mixed four birdies and four bogeys. He father, C.H. An, caddied for him, and his mother, sister and grandfather followed his round.

There were also teachers and schoolmates from his high school -- Rotorua Boys' High, which has won the world secondary school golf championship two years in a row.

Playing partner David Hill, who shot 74, was impressed by the youngster.

``As he gets older and stronger he'll hit it further,'' Hill said. ``It was hard for me. I didn't ever think at 41 that I'd end up playing with someone and I'd be triple their age.''

An three-putted his first green from 30 feet in a nervous start and was 2-over after five holes. He then birdied the 15th and 18th and turned in even par.

An bogeyed the second and fourth holes on his second nine but recovered when he drove the green at the 309-yard par-4 sixth hole, then birdied the par-5 seventh.

He played his second shot to three feet to set up a birdie chance on the par-4 eighth but lipped the putt after having to wait for playing partner Marcus Wheelhouse to complete a triple-bogey seven. Wheelhouse shot 77.

An landed his second shot in a greenside bunker at the par-4 ninth -- his finishing hole -- but hit a wedge to 10 feet and sank the par putt.

He said his ambitions were to make the cut after two rounds and to meet Tiger Woods, who had a 1-under 70 Thursday.


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