Korean star Choi envisions bright future for Asian golf
Seoul: Korean star golfer KJ Choi has predicted that Asians will start to dominate the World Rankings within the next 10 years, thanks to the continued expansion of the game in the region.
Choi, one of Asia`s most successful golfers, will host his own Asian Tour tournament, the $750,000 CJ Invitational, at the Haesley Nine Bridges Golf Club next week which puts him in an elite group which includes Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Tiger Woods as players who host their own events.
The 41-year-old intends to use the CJ Invitational as a platform to support the local communities through his KJ Choi Foundation and ultimately hopes the event will unearth a new generation of champions from Asia.
"My Foundation is about helping and working together for the community. Without golf, I would not be where I am today, and I wanted to use golf as the platform to give back to the community. If I was to create a tournament, I wanted the community to benefit from it and take part in it," said Choi.
A rice farmer`s son, Choi came through the ranks on the Asian Tour during the late 1990s before going on to establish himself on the PGA Tour, where he is now an eight-time winner.
Through the opportunities to compete across the region, he said his game benefited immensely and helped prepare him for success.
"Playing outside of Korea and on the Asian Tour provided me with the experience and know-how of adapting to different weather, course conditions, food, culture, language, travel logistics, time zones. Getting accustomed to these elements is so important to become a global player," he said.
"I would like to see my tournament grow, and contribute to the game of golf in the Asian region, and establish itself as a foundation and a window for Korean and Asian Tour players to get an opportunity to play on a bigger global stage, like the PGA Tour."
Choi, currently ranked 15th in the world, said the region would continue to develop, both in terms of tournaments and playing standards. At present, there are no fewer than 20 Asian players, including Japanese, in the world`s top-200 but Choi believes the figures will double in the near future.
"The Asian region is viewed by many to have the most potential for growth in the game of golf. Asian players have grown so much in the past 10 years and compete shoulder to shoulder on the world stage week in and out," he said.
"I think that number (Asians in the top-200 of the world ranking) will double in the next 10 years, with more players higher up in the top 100."
The CJ tournament will feature 55 players each from the Asian Tour and Korean Golf Tour plus 10 sponsor`s invitations, making it a 120-man field.