K.J trumps Tiger…earns his praise
Thursday 9th April| They were being called the two unluckiest players in the draw at Augusta this year. K.J Choi and Matt Kuchar, Tiger Woods’ playing partners for the first two rounds of his comeback extravaganza, also known as the 2010 Augusta Masters, would surely crumble under the pressure of the intense media scrutiny and huge crowds following his return to golf.
As it turned out, the rest of the field must be wishing they could have attracted some of the good vibes of that group. Collectively, Choi, Woods and Kuchar shot 11 under par around Augusta National in Thursday’s 1st Round, making them the most successful group of the day’s draw.
K.J Choi’s caddy Andy Prodger had spoken about his lack of nerves about being in Tiger’s group prior to Thursday’s round. He had seen it all before. No biggie.
His boss showed a similar calmness as he expertly managed his game around a decidedly accessible Augusta National to turn in a round of 5 under par 67 to sit 1 shot off Fred Couples’ lead, 1 better than Woods.
Choi made the turn at 1 under after mixing birdies at the 2nd and 4th holes with a dropped shot at number 6. He was still 1 under through 12 holes but then caught fire with 4 straight birdies from the 13th through the 16th. He finished it off with a couple of pars to tie fellow countryman Y.E Yang, veteran Tom Watson, Phil Mickelson and Lee Westwood at -5.
His playing partner Tiger Woods, who shot 68, was understandably impressed with Choi’s game:
“KJ played great..he made a lot of putts, drove the ball on a string today..when he did put himself in a spot he just knocked it up there and made a putt”.
Choi’s coach Steve Bann was also very pleased with the attitude his player brought to the course:
“K.J is always looking forward to testing himself and growing as a golfer. He has always played well when paired with Tiger so he was very excited about this opportunity. He saw this as a Sunday atmosphere feel on a Thursday.”
Bann pointed out that Choi has done a great job of preparing for this tournament, focusing on his short game and long putts and preserving his energy for the big show: “K.J is the most comfortable he has ever been with his game. This week he has played just 2 rounds of 9 and 1 round of 18 holes and balanced his practice really well”.
When he is on his game, Choi can compete with anyone, as he proved to Tiger by winning his event in 2007. Tiger has plenty of respect for the man:
“KJ as we all know can play, and he gets into his own little world and he focuses and he gets the job done”.
Choi has a long way to go before the job is done at Augusta but he is off to one heck of a start.
Thanks to Pure Golf Blog for this content.