It’s not every week six guys wearing matching T-shirts emblazoned with “Choi’s Bois” travel 600 miles to root for K.J. Choi. In fact, it only happens during The Players Championship. Since 2005 Brad Page (age 27), Bo Page (30), Bobby Page (53), David Clayton (30), Alex Kirkland (30) and Curtis Gribble (27) fly from Nashville, TN, to Ponte Vedra Beach, FL, just to watch Choi play.
How in the world do six guys with no previous ties to the South Korean-born golfer turn into diehard fans? Good question.
“We came out here in ’05 and watched,” said Clayton. “Of all the guys, we found K.J. Choi the most fan-friendly and we liked the way he played.”
Added Brad, “No matter if he birdied or double-bogeyed, he still paid the same amount of attention to the fans. Every time.”
Note to players: Simple gestures mean more than you think to spectators.
“He is really great to the fans,” said Gribble. “Right in the middle of his round, he signed a ball and dropped it off to a kid. You can tell he really loves the game and respects it, whereas with some of the other players you can’t.”
This year Choi’s Bois got a special treat, besides the opportunity to watch Choi win a thrilling playoff against David Toms. While the golfer always acknowledged their cheers in the past, they met him for the first time on Sunday morning after he finished the third round of the rain-delayed event. When Choi arrived to the 11th tee at 7:45am, the Bois were already waiting for him. Choi told them to make sure they waited for him behind 18 so they could finally take a picture together.
The guys aren’t sure where and who came up with the name “Choi’s Bois.” Last year after talking about making T-shirts, Gribble took the initiative and surprised the rest of the group. When they checked in, he rushed up to the hotel room first and laid the shirts out.
I know what you’re thinking, but no, this wasn’t some publicity stunt. Trust me, they lived and died by every shot K.J. hit since Thursday. With Choi playing alongside Graeme McDowell and David Toms in the final group on Sunday afternoon, it was a little more difficult to follow Choi compared to the previous rounds. And yes, they wore the same black T-shirts each day in the 90-plus degree heat.
“We had to use quite a bit of Febreze to get them ready for today,” cracked Alex. “Don’t worry about it.”
Their efforts didn’t go unnoticed or unappreciated.
“Every day this week when we sat down for dinner, the conversation that I had with my caddie and my coach and my manager, what we said was it was very interesting, very good to see,” said Choi during his post-round presser through an interpreter. “I was very surprised to see how the crowds, the gallery, the local fans were supporting me. They showed me a lot of support, a lot of love. And for the Choi’s Bois, for them to come all the way from Tennessee to watch me play, imagine, I have no relationship with them.
“For them to fly all the way over just because they like me as a player and to support me the way that they did, I’m very appreciative. It’s really spectacular to see something like that. I felt that with support like that, every shot that I hit, I have to try my best. I didn’t want to let them down, so it was a very good thing to see.”
To cap off the great week, the Bois had the chance to congratulate Choi in person. After the trophy presentation on 18 green on Sunday evening, Choi flagged them down and waved them inside the ropes to join him for another picture.
“It was a well-deserved win and couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy,” said Gribble. “We’re obviously on Cloud Nine right now.”
(Photo via Curtis Gribble)