on November 1, 2007 by in Uncategorized, Comments (0)

Choi keen to put on a show for Asian fans

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – South Korea’s K.J. Choi is relishing the prospect of playing in front of Asian fans again after enjoying a stellar year on the PGA Tour, highlighted by two victories and a climb to ninth in the world rankings.

Choi will be one of the crowd favorites when he tees off in the first round of the Singapore Open on Thursday and the pressure of being the leading regional player at the Asian Tour’s flagship event is something the 37-year-old looks forward to.

“I do not feel any pressure at all,” Choi told reporters at the Serapong Course on Wednesday.

“In fact, the more galleries there are out there, the more motivated I will be to play better. To see them cheer for me gives me that much confidence.

“When I feel a lot of support, it makes me play better shots. As a professional, you want to be able to showcase your talent.”

Choi won his first professional tournament on the Asian Tour at the 1996 Korean Open before becoming the first player from his country to earn a U.S. PGA Tour card four years later.

TIME TO ADAPT

The former power lifter struggled to adapt to the conditions in the United States but after winning the Tampa Bay Classic in 2002, Choi has recorded five more victories on the world’s premier tour.

“A lot of people assumed language was the biggest problem I faced when I first joined the PGA Tour but that wasn’t the case,” he added.

“The most difficult thing in golf terms is that I grew up playing golf in Korea where a lot of courses have shared greens, making the target area much larger.

“In the U.S. the greens are tiny in comparison and the fairways are very narrow, the rough is deep. Trying to hit shots in those conditions is tough and it took a while for me to get used to them.”

Choi’s steady climb up the world rankings has won him many admirers with Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els, both in Singapore this week, among those who expect the Korean to become the first Asian to win one of golf’s four majors.

“I feel flattered to hear those words but I know there is a lot of things for me to improve on,” Choi said.

“Winning majors does not just come from being confident. I need to improve on my short game and play from the rough.

“I will continue to work on those things and know I need time. Once I do that, I hope the results will take care of themselves.”