Golfer Choi Kyoung-ju to host own tournament at home for second year
Korean golfer Choi Kyoung-ju will host his own tournament at home for a second year next month, bringing together stars from domestic and foreign tours.
At a press conference held at Haesley Nine Bridge in Yeoju, about 105 kilometers south of Seoul, he said the CJ Invitational hosted by K.J. Choi, his more famous moniker on the PGA Tour, will go on from Oct. 4 to 7.
The inaugural tournament took place last year as the first event in South Korea bearing the name of an active golfer.
The K.J. Choi Foundation and Asian Tour Media jointly created the event in May last year, and the Korean Golf Tour (KGT) and the Asian Tour will co-sanction the $750,000 tournament. Choi himself is the defending champion.
According to Choi, the 120-man field this year will include Ben Curtis of the U.S., the 2003 Open Championship winner, and South Korean Noh Seung-yul, who in 2010 became the youngest-ever money winner on the Asian Tour at age 19.
Other native stars include Charlie Wi, a seven-time Asian Tour winner, and Bae Sang-moon, a PGA Tour rookie this year with three career Asian Tour titles. Anthony Kim, a Korean-American player with three PGA Tour wins, played in last year's event and has received a sponsor's invite for this year.
Choi promised this year's event would be smoke-free.
"To make this a prestigious golf tournament, we will make sure there will be no cigarette smoke or cigarette butts during the event," he told reporters.
Visiting fans may leave their cigarettes and lighters at the gate in exchange for souvenirs, Choi explained. Smoking will only be permitted in designated areas, he said.
Last year, Choi banned the use of mobile phones and cameras during the tournament, so that players wouldn't be distracted by the clicking noise of such devices. Fans were asked to leave their devices before entering the tournament ground.
At the 2011 event, Choi overcame a three-shot deficit in the final round for his first win in South Korea in three years.
The 42-year-old, with eight PGA Tour wins, is considered the greatest male golfer from South Korea. He is the first Korean to win on the PGA Tour and enjoyed a banner season in 2011, thanks to his victory at The Players Championship, the tour's most lucrative event with a winner's prize of $1.71 million.
He made $4.4 million last year to rank fourth on the tour but has posted only two top-10 finishes in 21 starts this year, for $969,057 in earnings, good for 94th. He's also fallen from No. 14 in the world rankings in the first week of January this year to No. 40 this week. (Yonhap)