Choi misses cut but leaves with a smile
Unique swing was the talk of Pebble Beach this week
February 09, 2019
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
Ho Sung Choi's slo-mo swing is analyzed at AT&T Pebble Beach
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Ho Sung Choi enjoyed his brief trip to America this week, even though his Fisherman Swing left him well outside the cutline and the Pebble Beach weather left him with freezing hands.
Choi, whose unique follow-through and colorful interaction with playing partners and gallery members left a trail of smiles on the three courses he played this week, said goodbye on Saturday after a 5-over 77 left him at 9 over for the tournament.
Until this week, he had never set foot on American soil, and he’ll leave on Sunday for a photo shoot in Guam. But the 45-year-old from a small fishing village in Korea hopes to be back soon.
“I’m not quite sure of my schedule yet, but if I’m lucky enough to get another invite, I’ll be happy to play in any other tournament,” Choi said through an interpreter.
Choi, who came into this week after four top-20 finishes on the Japan Tour, including a win at the Casio World Open, said competing in a PGA TOUR event was a valuable learning experience.
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“I think the biggest takeaway was the greens,” he said. “They were so difficult to read and I was getting used to them. Even on the 17th hole, I had a short putt, maybe 30-40 centimeters, and I just blew it by. So it was hard getting adjusted to that.”
On Saturday, he gave each of his playing partners – his amateur teammate, actor Chris O’Donnell, and the other team of pro Jerry Kelly and amateur/Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers – one of his clubhead covers that features his logo, a silhouette of his one-legged follow-through.
“They were such great people,” Choi said. “And even when I had a bad shot or was struggling, they encouraged me and they gave me words of advice out there. I tried to give them a gift to remind them of me, and I thought a head cover with my logo would be the best thing to do."
Rodgers, whose request through social media channels to be in the same group with Choi was granted, called it a "fantastic" three days.
"He's just a super guy," Rodgers said. "We had him over to the house last night, him and his family. We had a blast. Like there's obviously some loss in translation with the language barrier, but we had his translator there, and we just had a blast.
"He's a great guy, I think it's great for the tournament and for golf. Obviously his swing gets a lot of attention, but he's a good player. It was tough conditions out there. Him and Jerry both struggled today. But he's a super guy and it was a lot of fun to play with him."
Choi felt the same way.
"“I’m so appreciative of all the great memories that they’re making because of this week," he said. "I felt like I had the best pairing.”