KJ, Yang on Northern Trust field
By Cho Mu-hyun
Veteran Korean golfers Choi Kyoung-ju and Yang Yong-eun will compete together at the Northern Trust Open.
The two are among eight Koreans who will play in the PGA tournament that will commence Friday (KST) at the par 71, 7,298 yard long Riviera Country Club course in Pacific Palisades near Los Angeles.
Choi and Yang have started poorly this season and will compete against their compatriots, including rookies Bae Sang-moon and Danny Lee, all aiming at a first win for 2012.
World No. 15 Choi was ranked 18th in the PGA’s list of players to watch out for this season but failed to make the cut in the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters that ended Feb. 5.
The 41-year-old ended in fifth place in his season opener at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, but struggled to 38th in the Sony Open and 48th at the Abu Dhabi Championships.
The “Tank” is 10th on the PGA Tour’s official website power rankings for the Northern Trust Open and a strong contender to take home the winner’s share of the $1.18 million purse. His inclusion is due to his outstanding record at the Riviera Country Club of four top ten finishes and no missed cuts in 11 starts.
Yang is faring no better this season, missing the cut in both the Farmers Insurance Open and Phoenix Open, which saw his world ranking drop to 55th.
The 41-year-old was the first Asian golfer to win a major, finishing three strokes ahead of Tiger Woods in the 2009 PGA Championship but failed to recreate that form in recent years and is badly in need of a win.
Last year’s Korean Tour money leader Kim Kyung-tae will feature as a guest player.
Charlie Wi, who squandered his lead and ceded victory to Phil Mickelson at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am on Monday, is entered as well as 24-year-old Kang Sung-hoon who turned professional in 2010.
Korean-American players Anthony Kim, a three-time PGA winner, and Kevin Na, No. 6 on power rankings for the tournament, are among the field.
Choi, Yang, Bae, Na and Kim Kyung-tae will also take part in the World Golf Championships’s Accenture Match Play Championships. The event is co-hosted by the PGA Tour, PGA Tour Australia, Sunshine Tour, Japan Golf Tour, European Tour and Asian Tour and players are picked by their world ranking. The tournament will commence on Feb. 23 at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club in Marana, Ariz.