Choi guns for historic treble at CJ Invitational

Wed 09 Oct 2013

Choi guns for historic treble at CJ Invitational

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Yeoju, Gyeonggi-do, Korea, October 9: Korean star K.J. Choi will be on a mission to write a slice of history on the Asian Tour while maintaining his reputation as a gracious host at the US$750,000 CJ Invitational which starts on Thursday.
Choi, who won the CJ Invitational in 2011 and 2012, will aim to be the first ever player to win the same Asian Tour event for the third straight occasion and at the same time, keep sponsors and the players happy.
Among those who are expected to stop Choi’s title aspirations include current Asian Tour Order of Merit leader Kiradech Aphibarnat of Thailand, Gaganjeet Bhullar of India, an in-form Scott Hend, who won the Taiwan Masters last week and Major champion David Toms of the United States.
“I’m eyeing a third win in this event but obviously it won’t be easy. No player has done it on the Asian Tour before and I hope to be the first. But I’ll also be happy if a younger player wins this event as well,” said Choi, an eight-time PGA Tour winner.
The decorated Korean has not won this season but insists  he is in top-form heading into the event which is staged for the  third consecutive year on the Asian Tour Schedule at the majestic Haesley Nine Bridges Golf Club.
Anirban Lahiri of India Anirban Lahiri of India
“I did not win this year but I made all the cuts in all the Major tournaments so that’s a positive sign for me. I finished higher on the US PGA Tour rankings compared to last year so that’s another success for me,” said the 43-year-old Choi.
“I really wanted to play in the Players Championship and I played in more tournaments than I expected. That caused my fitness level to go down. I guess I pushed myself a bit too hard,”added Choi.
Since the CJ Invitational was launched in 2011, Choi has introduced regulations to ensure spectators and players have a memorable experience. In the first year, fans were not allowed to bring cameras and mobiles phones while in 2012, spectators were not allowed to smoke on the course.
This year, Choi will launch a ‘Thank You’ campaign to teach fans to be more caring and respectful.
“I want to make this tournament the best event in Asia. I’ve been doing a lot of campaigns and spectators are following all the rules. That made me happy and even more comfortable playing in this event. Maybe that’s why I can win twice!” said Choi.
Current Merit leader Kiradech, winner of the Malaysian Open sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour in March, will make his debut at the CJ Invitational Hosted by KJ Choi despite nursing a wrist injury which he sustained last week.
Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand
“My wrist is 80% better. I tried to practice a lot last week and hurt my wrist. It is recovering now but I had to pull out from the Taiwan Masters because I did not want to aggravate the injury. This is the first time I’m playing in this event so I’m quite excited and if I can rediscover my form then I’ll have a good chance at claiming the title,” said the Thai.
Lahiri, ranked 10th on the Asian Tour Order of Merit, hopes to overcome a stretch of three missed cuts as he aims for a dream pairing with Choi during the weekend.
“It has been a frustrating couple of weeks. It started out horrendously. I’ve played good on the second days and I’ve been unfortunate not to play in the weekends. My game is feeling better and my body is getting better every week,” said the three-time Asian Tour winner.
“KJ has set such a high example for Asians all over the world to aim and achieve. He is such a gentlemen and a great ambassador for Asian golf. We all try to match up with his game and hopefully I get to play with him during one of the rounds and beat him,” smiled the Indian.
Rikard Karlberg of Sweden, a two-time winner on the region’s premier Tour which is celebrating its 10th season in 2013, predicts that there will be a new champion this week.
“KJ has shown us how strong and solid his game is.  He has lectured us like small boys in this tournament but I think the players now are getting better and better and they are more used to the golf course. I think we will see another winner this year,” said Karlberg.
The CJ Invitational Hosted by KJ Choi will also be the final event counting towards the qualification of the WGC-HSBC Champions later this month.
The top players on the Asian Tour Order of Merit such as Bhullar, Hend, Baek Seuk-hyun, Wade Ormsby, Anirban Lahiri and Prayad Marksaeng will be aiming to qualify for the prestigious event.
The CJ Invitational Hosted by KJ Choi is title sponsored by the CJ Group, Korea’s food-to-entertainment conglomerate and is promoted by IMG.
About the K.J. Choi Foundation
Rikard Karlberg of Sweden Rikard Karlberg of Sweden
K.J. Choi, one of the most successful golfers to come from Korea, did not want to stop with his own personal success, but felt a strong social responsibility to give back to society and realized he needed a reliable means of doing so. Joining together with other community leaders in Korea who share the common idea, he established the K.J. Choi Foundation in 2007 for this purpose. K.J. Choi Foundation conducts major charitable projects for those who are faced in hopeless situations in Korean domestic and International communities. The Foundation especially focuses in the support of underprivileged children by lovingly providing welfare services and professional help, thus providing young people with hopes and dreams. K.J. Choi also works closely with many community leaders to help support junior golfers in difficult financial and environmental situations fulfil their dreams through his junior golf program, K.J. Choi Dream Team. K.J. Choi Foundation’s vision is to be a community leader that provides hope and happiness for all, and its purpose is to be a Foundation for everyone.
About the Asian Tour
In 2013, the Asian Tour will celebrate a momentous milestone with its 10th season. As the official sanctioning body for professional golf in Asia, the Asian Tour leads the development of golf across the region, enhancing the careers of its members while maintaining a commitment to the integrity of the game. The Asian Tour, through its membership of the International Federation of PGA Tours, is the only recognised pan-Asian professional golf tour in Asia. This unique feature positions the Asian Tour at the pinnacle of professional golf in Asia; providing its events with Official World Ranking status. Tour Partners include Abacus (Official Apparel Partner), Inetol Headwear (Official Headwear Supplier), Saxo Capital Markets (Official Statistics Partner), Singha Beer (Official Beer), Srixon (Official Ball), Subway (Official Quick Service Restaurant), Starwood Hotels and Resorts (Official Hotels and Resorts) and Rolex (Official Timekeeper). The Asian Tour has offices in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. Also, visit us at www.asiantour.com, www.facebook.com/asiantourgolf, www.twitter.com/asiantourgolf, www.youtube.com/theasiantour and www.weibo.com/asiantourgolf.