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K.J. Choi finishes opening round with two shots behind lead

K.J. Choi finishes opening round with two shots behind lead

Posted January. 14, 2023 07:57,   

Updated January. 14, 2023 07:57


"Korean Tank" Choi Kyung-ju got off to a flying start on the first day of the PGA Tour Sony Open.

K.J. Choi grabbed a shared 11th place, recording a four-under-par 66 with five birdies and one bogey for the first round of the tournament on Friday held in Waialae Country Club in Honolulu, Hawaii. He is just two shots behind the lead group.

Choi had been playing mainly in the Champions Tour for the last two seasons but said he would focus on the PGA Tour in 2023. The Korean golf legend said, though it would not be easy, he wanted to race again for the top after watching younger Korean colleagues competing for a win in the PGA Tours. Choi's latest best record in the PGA Tour is a shared 10th place at the RBC Heritage Golf Tournament in April 2019. He did not cut the three PGA Tour tournaments he played for the last season.

With eight wins on the PGA Tour, Choi won the Sony Open in 2008. After the round, the Korean veteran said that Sony invited him to the tournament though he was not eligible. He noted that there were a lot of fans out there supporting him when he was the champion in 2008 and that the round reminded him of some good old memories, and enjoyed a great first round. Among the seven Korean golfers playing in the tournament, Choi is 32 years older than the youngest, Kim Joo-hyung, who is 20 years old. Though his driving distance did not fare well compared to other players, Choi boasted accurate shots by recording a 78.57% fairway landing rate and 77.78% green hit rate.

Kim Sung-hyun shared fourth place by getting five birdies up until the 16th hole (par 4). Kim was named the best rookie for the Korn Ferry Tour in 2022 and is now going for the PGA Tour starting this season. Korea's ace rookie will return the next day to complete the remaining two holes as the opening round could not be concluded due to fading light at sunset. Kim Si-woo, another Korean golfer in the tournament, ranked a shared 22nd place with a three-under-par 67.