Choi named to elevated position as Vice-Captain
June 04, 2014
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
- Korean native K.J. Choi will play a key role on the International Team in his home country. (Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
K.J. Choi is guaranteed a place on the International Team for The Presidents Cup in October of 2015, having been named as Vice-Captain by Nick Price on Wednesday.
He could guarantee himself a spot as a player should he finish inside the top 10 in points or be chosen as a Captain's Pick when the teams are selected in the fall of 2015. Choi currently ranks 19th in International points.
Either way, the 43-year-old Choi understands the importance of his participation. The Presidents Cup 2015 will be played in Choi's home country of South Korea in Songdo IBD, Incheon City. It's the first time the biennial event will be played in Asia.
"I am feeling immense obligation and burden," Choi said in his opening remarks at the Captain's announcement that took place at the Champion Tour's Big Cedar Legends of Golf presented by Bass Pro Shops, as Price and Jay Haas were named captains for next year's event.
"Until now, The Presidents Cup was held in an English-speaking world, and this is the first time that it's being held in a non-English speaking world. With The Presidents Cup being held in Korea, I am quite sure that there will be renewed ideas of what golf is."
HAAS, PRICE NAMED CAPTAINS FOR 2015 PRESIDENTS CUP
The decision by Price to name Choi in the elevated role of Vice-Captain as opposed to Captain's Assistant was fueled by more than just the location of the 2015 competition. Choi not only will serve as an ambassador for the event in his own country but is also determined to help the International Team end its losing streak, which is now at five consecutive events.
In fact, the last time the International Team did not lose The Presidents Cup was 2003, the first year that Choi participated in the event. That year, captains Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player agreed to a tie when the outcome could not be settled before the final match was halted for darkness. Choi was a Captain's Pick for that team, becoming the first Asian golfer to play in the event.
Price and Choi were also teammates that week. Last year at The Presidents Cup in Muirfield Village, Price sought input from Choi, who was making his third appearance as a player.
"He had a lot of great ideas, a lot of great advice, which I used, which I also understood," Price said. "So it was really an obvious choice for me when we were going to South Korea. ...
"I think he's going to help me a lot over there with some of the difficulties that I may encounter, and he'll make me feel very much at home there, too. I'm looking forward to it a lot."
Choi recalled that when he won the first of his eight PGA TOUR victories in 2002 in New Orleans, he did not know much about The Presidents Cup. But the next year when he was on the team, he realized the importance of the event.
It will be even bigger in his country next year.
"This is going to be a huge event for Korea," said Price, who will be the International Team captain for the second time. "Korea has become a powerhouse in golf over the past decade or so."
And it will be more than just golf.
"We will use that week in Korea to tell the story about the very strong relationship our military forces have with the business community in Seoul and in Korea," said PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem. "We think it's a compelling story, an historic story, and one that means a lot to the Korean people."
Given that the International Team could have several Asian players, it's only natural that one of Asia's most respected golfers have elevated status among the decision-makers.
Japan's Hideki Matsuyama, last week's winner of the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance, currently ranks third in points. Thailand's Thongchai Jaidee is sixth. No less than five Koreans are among the top 40 in points, including Hyung-Sung Kim, Seung-Yul Noh, Sung Joon Park, Sang-Moon Bae and Choi.
Noh and Bae have expressed their admiration for Choi.
"I respect him, and at the same time, I learned a lot from him about bunker shot and short game and course managing, everything," said Bae, the 2013 winner of the HP Byron Nelson Championship. "I'm learning from him."
Choi plans to help Price in any way he can. The main objective, of course, will be to beat the U.S. Team.
"The International Team has one win, one draw and eight losses so far," Choi said. "I sincerely hope to help realize a second win in Korea this time.
"Although I'm lacking in many ways, I'll give all I've got."
K.J. Choi goes home (part 1)
K.J. Choi goes home (part 1)
MORE VIDEO: For Part II of Choi's trip home, click here.