Korean professional golfer Choi Kyung-ju will host his own tournament on his native land this fall, the country’s top PGA Tour player said this week.
Better known as K.J. Choi in the U.S., the 41-year-old golfer said the tournament has been tentatively named the “KJ Choi Invitational” and will be held from Oct. 20 to 23 at the Ocean Course of the Sky 72 Golf Club in Incheon, about 40 kilometers west of Seoul. The KJ Choi Foundation and Asian Tour Media jointly created the event, and the Korean Golf Tour and the Asian Tour will co-sanction it.
The tournament will offer $750,000 in total purse. It will be the first local tournament bearing the name of an active golfer.
“This is my dream come true,” Choi said at a press conference. “I’ve long wanted to start a tournament to help develop the KGT, which is the basis for my career, and the Asian Tour.”
Choi said the name of the tournament is subject to change depending on corporate sponsorships.
The KGT Eugene Investment & Securities Open, a local tournament, had been scheduled for Oct. 20-23, but its organizers agreed to reschedule to accommodate Choi.
Choi has eight wins on the PGA Tour, the most among Koreans. His latest victory came on May 15 at The Players Championship, the tour’s richest tournament with the winner’s prize of $1.71 million. Choi is currently ranked 16th in the world and third on the PGA Tour money list.
“Even before my win at The Players Championship, I had been thinking this would be the perfect year to launch my own tournament,” Choi said. “And the victory just makes this occasion that much better.”
Only a handful of golfers have had their own tournaments on the PGA Tour, including Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Tiger Woods and Byron Nelson.
“Over my 12 years on the PGA Tour, I’ve been deeply impressed with tournaments that golfers hosted with honor,” Choi said.
He has won two such events: the 2007 Memorial Tournament, hosted by Nicklaus, and the 2007 AT&T National, hosted by Woods.
“My foundation and I are always trying to give something back to the community,” said Choi, who donated $200,000 of his winnings at The Players Championship to help victims of tornadoes in the southern U.S.
“I will prepare for this tournament with the idea that sharing is more important than possessing,” Choi added. “The entire proceeds will go to the KJ Choi Foundation and will help local communities and underprivileged neighbors.”
Choi said while the field hasn’t been determined, fellow Korean pros and some of his close friends on the PGA Tour could make the trip. (Yonhap News)