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A Bright New Start for KJ Choi

Posted January. 21, 2005 23:01,   


New clothes, new clubs, a new start.

“Tank” KJ Choi, who recently joined Nike Golf, completed a perfect performance in his first game of the season,

It was the first found of the PGA Tour Buick Invitational (total winnings $4.8 million), which took place on January 21 at the Torrey Pines GC (par 72) in San Diego, California.

Dressed in black from top to bottom, Choi posted five birdies with no bogeys to make a smooth start at joint 13th place.

His drives were a little shaky, with an average distance of 278 yards and a precision rate of 57 percent, but his iron shots and putting were dead on. He placed 14 of his 18 iron shots (78 percent) on the green, and shortened his stroke count with 28 clean putts. Charlie Wi, who made his debut in the PGA Tour on the same day after clearing the Qualifying School last year, recorded an even-par (joint 89th) with three birdies, one double bogey, and one bogey. Kevin Na (Kolon Elord) struggled somewhat, finishing with a 3-over-par (joint 139th).

The highly anticipated face-off among the “big 4” yielded a mixture of ups and downs. Ernie Els (South Africa) lived up to his name by placing at joint 4th place (7-under-par), but Tiger Woods (U.S.A., 3-under-par), Vijay Singh (Fiji, 1-under-par), and even Phil Mickelson (U.S.A., even-par), who was playing his first tournament this season, all fell short of expectations. The current leader is 46-year-old veteran Tom Lehman (U.S.A.), who posted a 10-under-par with 11 birdies and one bogey, including six consecutive birdies from the 13th through the 18th holes.

Sang-Soo Kim ssoo@donga.com