After finishing his practice session last week at Kapalua, K.J. Choi was kind (and patient) enough to take some time and chat with me for a solid half-hour (which to be fair, is more like 15 minutes because my questions and his answers are repeated via his interpreter/manager). Something people don’t know about K.J. (because he looks serious on the golf course) — he has a fantastic sense of humor, often cracking jokes (and yes, in English!). When the interview ended, he joked that we talked for so long he saw the moon rise and move across the tree line. I blamed his interpreter/manager, naturally.
The powers-that-be should love this Q&A (lots of great pro-Tour quotes!), with answers like, “I think if you’re a tournament winner, I think it’s really your obligation to the Tour to come and play this tournament (Hyundai Tournament of Champions). It’s just the right thing to do.”
Best part? K.J. isn’t just giving some PR-y answer because it’s the right thing to say — he genuinely means it.
The interview is posted on Golf.com, but here’s an excerpt:
Changing gears — you and Y.E. Yang were both weightlifters in Korea. Who can lift more?
And how often do people mistake you for Y.E.?
Even now and then fans come up to me with Y.E.’s picture and ask me to autograph it. [Laughing] Sometimes I sign it, sometimes I tell them, “No, I’m not Y.E.”
I saw Y.E. do that at Firestone. Some people were calling out, “K.J. K.J.,” and he walked up and said, “K.J. in clubhouse.”
You won the Players Championship last year, which is a very big tournament, and you already have accomplished so much in your career, but how important is it for you to win a major?
Five years ago I told the press that pretty soon you’re going to see a major winner from Asia, and Y.E. ended up winning the major. But last year I won the Players Championship, which is considered like a major. But the qualifications between the major tournaments and the Players Championship are a bit different. For majors the field is mainly based on receiving invitations. But with the Players Championship you really have to play your way in to qualify. So in a way, I think the Players Championship is just at the same level, if not better than the majors, in terms of importance. For me to have won that gave me a lot of confidence and eased my mind about having to win a major because before I was pressuring myself that I needed to win one, but now that I won the Players I really enjoy competing in the majors instead of feeling pressure to win majors. So I think that takes a lot of pressure off my shoulders.
Read the rest here. Many thanks to K.J. and Michael for their time!
(AP Photo/Eric Risberg)