Choi set for special Masters

Wed 10 Apr 2013

Choi set for special Masters

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April 10: Asian Tour Honorary Member K.J. Choi will savour a special Masters Tournament even before the first tee shot in struck on Thursday.
The Korean star, who is an eight-time winner on the PGA Tour and also known for his charitable work, will receive the Charlie Bartlett Award presented by the Golf Writers Association of America (GWAA) on Wednesday night.
The award, named after the association’s first secretary, recognizes professional golfers for their charity work and contributions to the betterment of society. Choi will become the first Asian recipient of the award which was first presented in 1971.
"This award isn't just for me as an individual," Choi told Yonhap News Agency. "I think this sends a message to other Asian golfers that they will too have opportunities, and they should also try to make changes with their actions."
Choi, the first Asian Tour graduate to make it big in America, revealed that he took two weeks to prepare his acceptance speech in English. He joked that he would present his speech to an American audience in “Konglish”.
He said he also plans to build a new training facility for golfers in Korea as part of giving back to the game.
"I've made it this far from Wando, which only had one driving range, with help from a lot of people," Choi said. "And that is why I am trying to help others now, and I am going to keep helping them. That's the gist of my speech."
The first Asian to host his own tournament on the Asian Tour with the CJ Invitational hosted by KJ Choi which was launched in 2011, Choi will quickly turn his attention to the year’s first Major at Augusta National Golf Club.
His best finish was third in 2004 with several other top-10s in recent years as well. With a new caddie on the bag this year, Choi is hoping to challenge for the title which he covets the most.
“As I do every year, I am looking forward this year’s Masters very much. It is a special place and a special tournament. I had a pretty good week in San Antonio last week (top-10) and I am hoping to bring some of that good momentum into the Masters,” said Choi.
“I always treat every tournament week the same. I prepare mentally and physically for the best possible outcome. But something about this tournament seems to make you focus a bit more and concentrate a bit more. “
Choi will use a new bagman, Alistair Matheson at the Masters. Matheson has been the long-time caddie for Australian Geoff Ogilvy, the former US Open champion.
“This year, I have a new caddy who has quite a lot of experience so it is a bit different,” he said.
For the first two rounds of the Masters, Choi has been paired with two former major winners: Zach Johnson, the 2007 Masters champion, and Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland, the 2010 U.S. Open winner.