What they said: K.J. Choi

December 01, 2011
PGA TOUR staff

MORE INTERVIEWS: Chevron World Challenge transcript archive THE MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome first round leader, K.J. Choi into the interview room after a 6?under par 66. K.J., great playing today. If we could just get some opening comments.

K.J. CHOI: Yeah. Today I wake up early, so looking around the outside window, it looked very calm. (Laughs).

Last night, weather saying 45 per hour and 60 per hour and windy. And I'm very confident in the wind, playing in the low blow and high blow and low blow. And I still was starting very quick, and best my records in the five holes through birdie in the first time.

And then after the good start today, it was very exciting. I played very well today, and the putting and the second shot and controlling the wedge play, very great.

Even the putting is inside five feet, six feet and a couple times missed putt, but I'm very in contention with the putting is very good. And my body working is very good.

And two weeks ago in Australia from Dallas very long journey. Last week very good relaxing, family together for Thanksgiving. And it's more exciting this week and good start today. So happy and hope it continues in the three days to come.

Q. I was wondering what your thoughts are, the fact there could be a few of your countrymen joining you on the TOUR next year. There are a couple in Q?School and one already through, just what that's like to see the younger players joining this TOUR?

K.J. CHOI: Right now, some are in the Korean, so it happened to Michael. (Laughs).

Yeah. I'm happy to see the youngsters, the upcoming youngsters are really striving to achieve their goals. They're working hard. The mental thoughts of the young generation is really changing and they're becoming more challenged, and they're willing to go roads they haven't taken before. So I respect that. A lot of the youngsters nowadays, their goal is to make it out on the PGA TOUR, and I think it's good to see that they're taking these strides to achieve their goals.

Q. (Inaudible).

K.J. CHOI: It was very windy on the front nine. The back nine was more windy than the front nine. I think after five holes, the wind started picking up, to 30 miles per hour. My mindset was just to try and make par and try to be patient, and I think that strategy worked out.

Q. Now, where were you when the wind first kicked up? What hole were you on?

K.J. CHOI: Sixth hole.

Q. And secondly, how much do you think it helped coming straight -- well, not straight, but having most recently played at Melbourne where the wind was an issue also??

K.J. CHOI: It was very windy today. You really had to think where to miss, which direction to hit, but I was used to playing in the windy conditions because not only playing at Melbourne, but also, you know, living in Dallas, you know, where there's 20, 30-mile winds every other day. I'm used to practicing in those conditions, and throughout the years and just playing in windy conditions in the tournaments, you know, I've become very comfortable with those windy conditions.

Q. I hate to belabor the wind point, but I will. Did you look at the forecast and some of it had 60. One reported I think 80-mile-an-hour gusts. Was it almost a relief that it wasn't that bad, even though it was difficult??

K.J. CHOI: Yeah. You know, I thank the Lord for letting the wind pass through, you know, the Chevron World Challenge. It's going to help finish the tournament in time. I think it's a blessing that the wind wasn't as strong as they forecasted.

I mean if the winds really start to pick up at 40, 50 miles per hour, we can't really play out there. They would have to stop the tournament, so it's a blessing that it wasn't that strong.

Q. K.J., did you notice that they maybe slowed the greens down a bit in anticipation of heavier winds, and also, being a good wind player, do you look at it as maybe an advantage that the wind blew today and gave you a shot to maybe get out in front??

K.J. CHOI: No, I mean I don't think the wind, you know, practicing in windy conditions really gave me the advantage. I just think that, you know, overall my game has really improved. This being the second time for me to play here, I felt more comfortable.

And I think the greens are in very good condition. I don't think they really slowed the greens down purposely, because they were still very fast. But overall, just putting, you know, really helped today, and just looking forward to finishing it off.

Q. A couple of the younger Koreans have said that it was watching the play of you and Y. E. that gave them the courage to go down that road this they would not have taken otherwise. What made you think that you could take that road when, you know, what gave you the courage to take that road when you really didn't have a lot of people to follow??

K.J. CHOI: I mean the main goal was the fact that there was no PGA TOUR member from Korea at that time, and that was a very big motivation. I wanted to become the first Korean to make it on the PGA TOUR.

Secondly, having played the World cup at Kiawah Island in 1997, I was very impressed about a lot of things that really came to my heart. First of all, you know, the local crowds gallery were really supportive of me. They were very fair in cheering. The volunteers, the tournament organizers were very -- showed special attention to all the players, gave them all the good service. And the course set up, I was very surprised and impressed with the court setup.

And I felt that, you know, if I'm going to play on a TOUR, this is definitely the TOUR to play, and I was very impressed about all those things.

Q. What is the significance of seeing Tiger's name on the leaderboard right now, what it used to be, maybe what it's been the past couple years while he's struggled and maybe now while he's feeling pretty confident about his game again??

K.J. CHOI: I think he is really 80, 90 percent back to his form again, I think because he's worked very hard at it. He's nearly recovered back to his old shape. I think, you know, I'm very happy about playing with him tomorrow. Tiger is a good friend. He's got a very strong will. He's got the right mental attitude right now, and I think it's going to be a very fun day tomorrow.

And today I was able to notice, I watched him play a couple of holes today, and I was very impressed at the way he was swinging, at his rhythm, at the power that he had. It almost seemed like watching the old Tiger, back in the day.

And you know, I think with this form that he has right now, he's going to be ?? he's going to play well, and I think it's very good for the game. I think it's very good to see that he's really coming back to his old shape.

Q. Where did you watch him play??

K.J. CHOI: I saw him hitting second shot on fifth hole and also on the sixth hole.

THE MODERATOR: Anything else? K. J., thank you.

K.J. CHOI: Thank you.