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Choi Kyung-joo Ranked 8th, Getting Off to a Fresh Start

Posted January. 10, 2003 22:41,   


"Tank" Choi Kyung-joo got off to a fresh start in the first round of this season, which naturally feels pressuring to players.

The 2002 PGA Tour season kicked off Thursday morning bright and early with the playing of the Mercedes Championships (total prize money: $5 million) in Plantation Course at Kapalua, Maui, Hawaii. And Choi performed excellently in its first round.

Choi recorded 6 under par and 67 strokes with 7 birdies and 1 bogey, and landed on the 8th spot, 3 strokes apart from Jim Furyk (USA), who shares the top spot with Ernie Els (South Africa). Considering all the players in the championship are winners of last year`s US PGA Tour, it would be fair to say that Choi did a good job.

Choi has constantly upgraded himself ever since his debut in the United States three years ago. His upgraded performance demonstrated itself again. His shot has matured enough for him to confidently try birdies on almost every part of the hall. He records the highest success and accuracy rate of shots on green and driver shots, or respectively 83% and 80%.

Choi, however, recorded 30 putts, 2-3 more than usual, and made a bogey in the 9th hole where he should have cut down on the number of strokes.

Choi snatched up a birdie in the 2nd hole (par 3), and continuously recorded two more in the 3rd (par 4) and 6th (par 4). Although Choi did a bogey in the 9th (par 5), he caught up with a birdie in the 10th hole (par 4). Then, in the 14th (par 4) and the 15th hole (par 5), he recorded birdies, pulling himself way up on the ranking.

In the 18th hole (par 5) which has worked out a dynamic drama every year, Choi missed the eagle putt of about 5m. The hole is a steep downhill, enabling a strong player to make a "to-on" easily. However, Choi quickly worked out his 7th birdie.

In the second round, Choi will take on Shiqeki Maruyama (Japan).

Els, who had lost 2000 championship to Tiger Woods and 2001 championship to Furyk, recorded 64 strokes and 9 under par this time. As demonstrated by the performance of Furyk, the Plantation Course makes it possible for a top-ranking player to catch up at any time. The course record is 10 under par, and scored 64.

In the meanwhile, Sergio Garcia, who is aiming at winning the championship for the second time in a row, just stopped at 23rd with 2 under par and 71 strokes. In this championship, there is no cutoff. Therefore, it is too early to predict who will come out and win the $1 million prize in three days.

Young-Sik Ahn ysahn@donga.com