Choi seeks 'home' edge in Royal Melbourne

Tue 19 Nov 2013

Choi seeks 'home' edge in Royal Melbourne

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Melbourne, VIC, November 19: Korean star K.J. Choi hopes a return to his ‘second home’ will spark a title run at the ISPS HANDA World Cup of Golf starting on Thursday.
Along with upcoming countryman Bae Sang-moon, Choi, who is an Asian Tour honorary member, will tee up in the elite 60-man field at Royal Melbourne Golf Club having featured in the Presidents Cup here two years ago and also spending time in Down Under during the winter months as a fledgling professional golfer.
“My coach is Australian, my trainer is Australian and in the past I have spent three years here in the winter months, so I feel at home here, second home here. That’s why it feels good to be here,” said Choi.
Since cutting his professional teeth in Asia, Choi has become one of the most successful male Asian golfers in the world where he has accumulated eight PGA Tour titles, including The Players Championship.
Choi’s best finish in the World Cup was a third place in 2002 with Hur Suk-ho when the event was more focused as a team format. This year’s edition, which is modeled after the 2016 Olympics qualification, will offer US$7 million for the individual category and US$1 million for nations with two golfers in the tournament.
He also recalled the first time he successfully negotiated qualifying for the World Cup to feature at Kiawah Island in 1997, which he said provided the big push for him to play his way onto the PGA Tour.
“The World Cup is the one that made my life change. At that time, I decided to set up my goal to become a professional golfer in the United States,” said Choi.
“In the 1990s, professional golfers in Korea were not allowed to hit divots from the fairways and when we got to South Carolina, we were the only golfers in the practice round and we decided that we would just hit ‘top’ shots all day long and not take divots as the course conditions were so good and we did not want to hurt the grass. The next day, more teams showed up and they were hitting divots and only then we realised we could hit shots with divots!” added Choi.
The powerful Bae, who won three Asian Tour titles before establishing himself with a victory at the Byron Nelson Championship earlier this year, hopes to make a strong impression at only his second World Cup appearance.
“K.J. is a really good player so I am very excited. I had a practice round but this course is a bit tough, a little different than American courses. So I will try my best this week,” he said.
“This World Cup is very important and meaningful. I’m proud to be a part of the World Cup at Royal Melbourne, which is one of the best golf courses in the world.”
Tickets to witness the ISPS HANDA World Cup are on sale now from www.ticketmaster.com.au.
About ISPS
ISPS is a ‘General Incorporated Association’ based in Tokyo.  ISPS was founded by Japanese philanthropist Dr Haruhisa Handa in 2006 to support charitable causes throughout the sporting world.  ISPS has fostered partnerships with golf governing bodies worldwide to help develop the game at every level and promote blind and disabled golf.  ISPS’s heritage in supporting blind and disabled golf and Dr Handa’s interest and philanthropic contribution in golf has formed the foundation of its wider mission for golf to become a Paralympic sport. Visit www.ispsgolf.com
About Melbourne
Known as one of the world’s most liveable cities, it is Melbourne’s sophisticated, yet edgy style combined with super-friendly people that gives the city its personality. With an impressive calendar of high profile international events, including The Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival and The Australian Open Tennis Championships, Melbourne is a leader in staging major events and providing a world-class welcome to international visitors.
With inner-city precincts ranging from the infamous city centre laneways to the beachy, bayside chic of the south and eclectic northside cool – Melbourne is a city of constant discovery where fashion, food, sport and entertainment, shopping, heritage, the arts and good living all come together to creative a lifestyle envied by many around the world. Food and wine lovers in particular will be in food heaven in gourmet Melbourne. Eating experiences range from award-winning celebrity chef restaurants to farmers markets selling locally sourced wines and fresh produce.
As one of the most compact regions in Australia, Victoria offers a huge variety of landscapes and experiences within a few hours of Melbourne. Whether its deserts, alpine ski resorts, mighty rivers, great lakes, wildlife, or the unparalleled spectacle and beauty of the world renowned Great Ocean Road, Victoria is all about quality experiences.
Many of the state’s regional attractions, including valleys of vineyards and international surf beaches, are less than a two-hour drive from Melbourne. But with more time to spare, the entire state offers a variety of scenic routes ideal for self-drive and personalised tours.
About the International Federation of PGA Tours
The International Federation of PGA Tours was formed in 1996 by golf’s five world governing bodies – The European Tour, Japan Golf Tour Organisation, PGA TOUR, PGA Tour of Australasia and Sunshine Tour (South Africa PGA Tour) with the purpose of providing a forum for the world’s professional golf organizations to discuss issues of mutual importance and, together, develop and promote the game of golf on a global basis.  As part of its mission, the Federation initiated the World Golf Championships in 1999.  The Asian Tour joined the International Federation of PGA Tours in November 1999, while the Canadian Tour and the Tour de las Americas joined the Federation as associate members in 2000 and 2007, respectively.
In step with global growth of professional golf, the International Federation of PGA Tours announced an expansion and restructuring of its membership in 2009, adding the International Golf Association and additional professional golf tours, including – for the first time – women’s golf tours: China Golf Association; Korea Professional Golfers’ Association; Professional Golf Tour of India; LPGA Tour; Ladies European Tour; Australian Ladies Professional Golf Tour; Japan LPGA; Korean LPGA; and Ladies Asian Golf Tour.
About the International Golf Association
The International Golf Association (IGA) is a not-for-profit corporation, chartered in the State of New York in 1956.  IGA is governed by its seven-member Board of Directors.  Jonathan Linen is the IGA Board Chairman.  Through its association with the International Federation of PGA Tours, IGA continues its international goodwill through golf mission and looks forward to the 2013 return of the World Cup to The Royal Melbourne Golf Club, one of the world’s greatest golf venues.
About IMG
IMG Worldwide is a global sports, fashion and media business, with nearly 3,500 employees operating in 30 countries around the globe. IMG’s areas of expertise are diverse and wide ranging:  IMG College; IMG’s Joint Ventures in China, Brazil, India and Turkey; IMG Media; IMG Events and Federations; IMG Golf and IMG Tennis; IMG Fashion; IMG Models; IMG Art+Commerce; IMG Clients; IMG Academy; IMG Consulting and IMG Licensing.  More information is available at www.imgworld.com  Follow us on Twitter:  http://twitter.com/ IMG_Worldwide and Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/IMG-Worldwide/