Photo - Asian Tour
CHOI AND YANG FINISH TOP-10 AT MASTERS
Augusta, Georgia: Korea and the Asian Tour were celebrating on Sunday after another memorable Major campaign with K.J. Choi and Y.E. Yang finishing in the top-eight in the Masters Tournament.
Yang created history last August in becoming the first Asian player to win a Major when he captured the US PGA Championship. Now in the very next Major Championship, Choi and Yang added another chapter to the growing emergence of the Asian Tour by finishing joint fourth and eighth respectively in the 74th staging of the Masters at Augusta National.
Choi went within a whisker of emulating Yang as a Major champion in carding an eventual final round three-under-par 69 to end the week in tied fourth with world number one Tiger Woods, five shots adrift of winner Phil Mickelson.
Mickelson held off the challenges of playing companion Lee Westwood and also Choi, who trailed the American by one stroke on the 11th hole.
“It was a good four rounds and I enjoyed it really well,” said Choi.
Choi, an honorary member of the Asian Tour and currently third on the Order of Merit, got the start he wanted with birdies on the second, sixth and eighth holes to set a thrilling final nine holes and the ‘real start’ of the Masters.
The Korean closed in on the leader by holing a great birdie at the 10th but it would prove the high-water of Choi’s charge as he dropped successive shots at the par five 13th hole and 14th hole before a birdie at the par five 15th eventually saw him signing off with an 11-under par total.
He later revealed that both he and Woods were put on the clock and it threw him off his often smooth rhythm. “We were told about our pace on the 12th hole, so that kind of got to me mentally,” Choi said.
“Then on my second shot at 13, I was really focussed and I was getting ready to hit my shot and then when that happened, it threw me off.”
Choi’s result is his second best in 36 Majors and just a place lower than a career high of tied third in 2004 Masters.
“It was an exciting finish for me in 2004, but only this year I feel, on a personal level, it was better for me because my playing level had improved a lot compared to 2004,” said Choi.
He was paired with Woods for all four rounds and matched the American blow for blow. “I’m satisfied and it was gratifying for me this year and the fans were very supportive and just playing with Tiger for the last four days was a very good experience for me,” said Choi.
Yang, also an Asian Tour honorary member, held his head high after birdying four of his closing nine holes in a final round of 70. Contesting in his third Masters, he had earlier dropped two shots in succession at the fifth and sixth holes.
“The front nine, I was two-over for the day really fast but then on the fifth hole I missed a makeable putt, and then on the next I hit it a bit short and made bogey,” said Yang.
“I am a bit of streaky player, so I like having my birdies early, and if I don’t, then it sort of frustrates me and it just impacts my whole game. The short putts that I missed affected my whole game throughout.”
Mickelson closed with a 67 to collect his third Augusta green jacket and the fourth Major Championship of his career. Europe’s number one Westwood, striving for his first Major, stalled somewhat in recording a 71 to end in second place which is also his best-ever result in the Majors. Anthony Kim finished third after a 65.