The South Korean super-star, K.J. Choi is the most successful Asian golfer on the US PGA Tour. He has become a legend in his home-land and also a highly respected professional sportsman on a global scale.
The one-time power-lifter from Wando in South Korea will be honoured with a special induction into the Asia Pacific Golf Hall of Fame. This recognition will be bestowed upon Choi at the 2013 Asia Pacific Golf Summit (APGS) scheduled to be staged in the Indonesian capital city of Jakarta on 5-7 November.
Commenting on this historic award, Mike Sebastian, chief executive officer of the Asia Pacific Golf Group, the owner and producer of APGS and the Asia Pacific Golf Hall Of Fame said, “Choi is a real trail-blazer – a man who possesses the talent, skill and temerity to play his game at the highest level and succeed – what he has achieved in the professional game in Asia, Europe and the United States will serve as an inspiring and motivating influence on Asians to aim high and to go for gold in golf.”
Choi was the first South Korean to earn a PGA Tour card. In his rookie season in 2000 he finished 134th on the money list and had to requalify, but since 2001 he has been a consistent performer on the tour. In 2002 he became the first Korean to win on the PGA Tour at the Compaq Classic of New Orleans, and followed it up with another victory at the Tampa Bay Classic later that year.
The strong-man who is affectionately referred to as “tank” because of his powerful physique won Jack Nicklaus’s Memorial Tournament in 2007 and then went on to win the first AT&T National hosted by Tiger Woods.
Always a crowd favourite, he reached the top 10 of the world rankings for the first time in 2007. In January 2008, Choi won the Sony Open in Hawaii and rose to world number 7 and topped this in March 2008 when he climbed to the fifth spot on the rankings. Choi’s biggest win of his career came in 2011 at The Players Championship.
Besides his achievements on tour, Choi has supported relief efforts worldwide as well as programmes to help Korean communities and for this, he was named recipient of the Golf Writers Association of America’s (GWAA) Charlie Bartlett Award this year. When Choi won his third event – the 2005 Chrysler Classic of Greensboro – he presented a US$90,000 check to a Korean Presbyterian church in Greensboro.
Choi donated US$90,000 to hurricane victims in the United States in 2009 and, after his 2011 win at The Players Championship, he donated US$200,000 to victims of the tornadoes that ravaged the southeastern part of the United States.
Later that year, he gave S$100,000 to victims of the tsunami that hit Japan.
“Although I feel that I haven’t done that much, I am honored to be recognized for my actions,” said Choi, who went on to add, “This is the first award of any sort that I have received during my 13-year career on the PGA Tour and I feel that much more honored to be receiving an award for my charitable actions rather than my play.”
The 42-year-old golfer founded the K.J. Choi Foundation in 2007 with the mission of helping Korean children and communities, but his reach has extended to global aid for hurricane and tsunami victims.
Choi will now join Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and the late Dr. David Chu, founder of the Mission Hills Group as a member of the Asia Pacific Golf Hall Of Fame.
Asia Pacific Golf Summit www.golfconference.org