TULSA, Okla. -- If you think K.J. Choi's success on the PGA Tour is a fluke, think again. When he first joined the tour, he curtailed his practice time to watch the game's best players hit balls at the 2000 Bay Hill Invitational.
"Back then, being the first player from Korea to come to the PGA Tour, I think I just thought that I had to survive out here on tour; there was no turning back for me, going back to Asia," he said.
"I felt that I had a lot of responsibility, not only on myself, but just being the first Korean over here, I wanted to succeed here. And I felt very strong about that," he said. "So what I did was studied other players to see what they did different than me. There were days I would not even practice. I'd be on the driving range or on the putting green, just watching -- watching other players how they prepare, how they practice, and just studying them, I guess I realized what they did different. And I felt like I had to compete and just try to emulate what they did in order for me to survive out here."
Who did he watch?
"I would just stand there for about 40 minutes watching Tiger, Ernie, Phil, Retief, just watching them hit practice balls, and I learned a lot," he recalled. "I remember thinking, wow, wow, they're good. They're really good. And I realized I had to step it up to another level for me to survive here on the tour."
Several players went out of their way to help Choi, and obviously he absorbed the information. Choi owns six PGA Tour titles, including this year's Memorial Tournament and AT&T National.
"Tiger helped me a lot," he said. "Fred Funk, Tom Pernice Jr. and Vijay and Jim Furyk, they all gave me good advice. I appreciate their help."
-- Mark Soltau