Photo - Asian Tour
CHOI SHINES FOR ASIA AT US OPEN
Pebble Beach, California: Korean star K.J. Choi put himself in Major contention after recovering from a horrendous start at the US Open on Thursday.
The Asian Tour honorary member was three over after two holes before bouncing back to shoot a one-under-par 70 at the Pebble Beach Golf Links to lie in tied fourth place, one shot behind co-leaders Paul Casey, Brendon De Jonge and Shaun Micheel.
Hiroyuki Fujita of Japan also started well with a 72 while Korea’s Y.E. Yang, Asia’s first Major champion, battled to a 73 for a share of 30th position.
Reigning Asian Tour number one Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand returned a 74 to lie alongside Korean teenager Noh Seung-yul, who is making his Major debut, and Fijian Vijay Singh, who is an Asian Tour honorary member. World number one Tiger Woods also signed for a 74.
Choi, a seven-time winner on the PGA Tour, was delighted to feature prominently on the leaderboard, especially with the way he started with a bogey and double bogey, courtesy of a three putt. But he rebounded strongly with three birdies to turn in even par before trading three more birdies against two late bogeys on his inward nine
“My body is very cold this morning,” said Choi, explaining his dreadful start. “I became comfortable after 4, 5, 6. Every day even par is a very good situation,” added the Korean strongman.
A top-10 finish at the Masters Tournament in April was another indication of Choi’s intention of joining Yang in the Major champions club. But he knows he has to take it one shot at a time at a demanding Pebble Beach.
“I’m so happy today,” said Choi, who is fourth on the Asian Tour’s Order of Merit. “This course looks like it is wide open but in the teeing ground, hitting before in the mindset, in the right, in the left, either way is very tough,” he said.
The 19-year-old Noh, winner of the Maybank Malaysian Open in March when he beat Choi by one shot, enjoyed a solid start in his first Major event. He went out in 36 with one birdie and a bogey before dropping three more shots for a share of 47th place.
India’s Arjun Atwal, who earned his place through sectional qualifying, carded a 75 while Sweden’s Rikard Karlberg, winner of the SAIL Open in India, shot a 77. Australian Terry Pilkadaris and Welshman Rhys Davies ended the day a further shot back.