Farmers Insurance Open interview: K.J. Choi

January 24, 2013

MORE INTERVIEWS: Farmers Insurance Open transcript archive

JOE CHEMYCZ:  We welcome K.J. Choi in with a 7‑under par on the South Course.  K.J., please just talk a little bit about your round today, and we'll take some questions after that.

K.J. CHOI:  I'm starting before 40 minutes and early in the range and hitting the ball, a different feel.  My hit the ball more impact and surely on the follow through and quicker.  It's more spinning
Never a 6‑iron and 7‑iron on the South Course because always greens are harder and it's bouncing 5 or 6 yards guaranteed.  But today starting on number 10 and 11, 12, and my ball's very quickly stopped, more high ball, more spinning.
My goal today a couple under par and the best in the finish today.  But in the 5‑shot different and the mindset very calm today.  Hitting, driving, and back nine started very nice, and then all day short irons, long irons mid‑irons, and inside 20 feet and the sand wedge.  And four or five holes almost in or three feet, four feet, and I make a putt.
It's a more difficult read on the South Course still with the grain on the ocean side, but a good read today, and I make a lot.  I'm so happy I'm that good position, and more three days of a good day of weather hopefully.  I pray a lot (laughing).  Yeah, so a great, great time today.  Very spectators and everybody, thanks for supporting me.  So I enjoy the golf course.

Q.  Because you played on the South, do you feel like you're leading after the first day?
K.J. CHOI:  I didn't really think about that, North Course, South Course.  I was just thinking maybe 5‑under, 6‑under would be a good score for today, and I hope that this momentum just carries on into tomorrow and the weekend.

Q.  You said in the past that you didn't like the course that much.  It didn't really fit you.  Why did you decide to come this year because you didn't participate last year, and what did you find today that made you play so well?
K.J. CHOI:  So, in the past, the course is pretty long, the greens are pretty hard, so I felt like the course didn't really fit me too well before.  But now, as I mentioned before, I found something on the range this morning.  Surprisingly, today all of my iron shots were kind of stopping into the green.
Last year I didn't participate, and there were some fans that were pretty disappointed, so I felt like I should come back this year.

Q.  What was the best shot you hit today?
K.J. CHOI:  Many shots today.  Pick one?

Q.  Yes.
K.J. CHOI:  I think number 15.  It's 109 yards with the side wind, and the pitching wedge, 120‑yard shot, almost just the ball before a couple inches stopped.  My best shot on the South Course ever.

Q.  Ever?
K.J. CHOI:  Ever.

Q.  You've mentioned in the past that you'd like to start fresh every year and not set the expectations too high.  This past off‑season, have you focused more on training and not the K.J. Choi Foundation and other things, and do you think that's helped in the beginning of this season already?
K.J. CHOI:  There were no big changes in the off‑season, but I did change my wedges recently, and focused a lot on my short game during the off‑season, and I think that's helped out a lot.  As mentioned before, 40 minutes prior to my tee time, I found something on the range.  It was really subtle, but my swing felt effortless and that carried on into my round today.

Q.  What did you find?
K.J. CHOI:  Just feel.  Before I hit the ball, and it stayed a long time in my hands and still after hit.  But today after hit the ball went direction high and softer landing.  So some balls in a clear mind and 50% just hit it, ball speeding coming.
Before then, more 80% hit it, but spinning 60% less.  But mentally.  A little different yesterday to today.

Q.  Was it one shot on the range?
K.J. CHOI:  No, driving, irons, pitching, everything, the short irons.

Q.  Was it one shot on the range that you felt it and then you worked off?
K.J. CHOI:  No.  My hitting maybe 20 balls, 30 balls and then it came more confidence in the hitting, more subtly.  That's why I asked my coach, Steve Bann, and we worked around yesterday.  Why my ball on the 6‑iron, 7‑iron, landing after six, seven yards.  He said, it looks good.  The swing pictures and the videos, everything the detail you see, everything's not changed from last year to this year.
But in the morning it was 50% energy going and the mindset, the ball speeding in the 70 to 80% more higher, so more stable and impact is more better.

Q.  When was the last time you did play here, and how did you know your fans were upset?  Did you read comments on your website, or how did you know that fans were upset that you weren't playing here?
K.J. CHOI:  Well, I have a host here, usually, and I have a host in a couple other cities when I play.  They kind of keep in touch with my fan base wherever I go.  So they let me know that they were pretty disappointed.
There is someone that I always speak to the phone from this area, and that person said that I really have to come this week.  I told them the weather's bad, the course is tough, but he insisted.  Many thanks to the fans out there today for their support.  Without them, it really couldn't happen today, this round.

Q.  When was the last time you were here?
K.J. CHOI:  Two years ago.

Q.  Insisted how?
K.J. CHOI:  Last year my results during the west coast swing weren't great, so they kind of mentioned that, and convinced me to come over.

Q.  You're the first generation to really come over here and become successful on the PGA TOUR, and as you see more Korean players coming to the TOUR, how do you feel?
K.J. CHOI:  Before I came to the PGA TOUR, we didn't even think it was possible for Koreans to make it into the PGA TOUR.  I mentioned previously that if one every year comes over, that it's pretty historic.  I think that the younger generation guys have done well here now, and golf is in good hands with them.