Wind blows Choi’s tour openerThough it may seem as though it never ended ― what with a barrage of the so-called “silly season” events in winter ― a new golf season is upon us.
The 2006 Professional Golfers Association Tour kicked off in Hawaii, as tournament winners from the previous season gathered for the champs-only Mercedes Championship at Kapalua Resort’s Plantation Course.
If the first step taken in the season provides an indication of what lies ahead, then last week’s performance probably wasn’t what Choi Kyoung-ju had in mind. The first Korean man to win on the PGA Tour, the 35-year-old Choi has been marred by inconsistency in the last three seasons, and he was at his worst up-and-down self again last week.
In brutal, blustery conditions in which some players saw their ball land on greens and literally get blown away, Choi’s 10-over and a tie for 19th place was a respectable finish. Olin Browne, who shot a 4-under-69 in the first round, and runner-up Vijay Singh, who recorded an improbable 66 on the final day, wound up being the only two golfers to break 70 during the entire tournament ― half the field went the week without ever breaking par set at 73.
Still, Choi’s performance left much to be desired. While he wasn’t hitting with much accuracy early on, he made enough key putts to keep him in the pack. But when he picked up some distance and precision off the tee in the final round of the tournament, hitting 80 percent of the fairways with 266.5 yards on average, his putting failed him, as he needed a whopping 34 putts to close.
This was one of those tournaments where finishing under-par for the week was a success, and only six players managed to do so. Choi, along with many other golfers, probably isn’t used to seeing double-digit over-par numbers next to his name on the scoreboard. He has to put this behind him and get on with the rest of the long season.
One cause for concern is that in such gusty conditions, golfers tend to adjust their normal swing forms to keep their ball flight low into the wind, and that leaves them vulnerable to developing bad swing habits if done too early in the season. Choi must pay attention to his normal swing plane ― the stocky former bodybuilder has a simple, compact swing that’s been the envy of fellow pros ― and work at becoming more consistent in all other aspects of his game.
by Yoo Jee-ho