6 vie to be 1st Korean to win the Masters

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6 vie to be 1st Korean to win the Masters

A total of six golfers will attempt to become the first Korean to win the Masters Golf Tournament in Augusta, Georgia, from April 9 to 12. At the first major championship of the 2010 PGA Tour season, a total of 97 golfers will compete for the right to wear the green jacket.

Representing Korea at the tourney will be Choi Kyung-ju, 39, Yang Yong-eun, 38, An Byung-hun, 18, Han Chang-won, 18, and Korean-Americans Anthony Kim, 24, and Kevin Na, 26.

Choi qualified as one of the top 50 on the Official World Golf Ranking list and is set to compete in his eighth consecutive Masters. As the veteran of the group, Choi boasts the most experience on the PGA Tour. His best finish at the Masters was third overall in 2004.

“If I win a major this year, I would have to say it will be at the Masters,” Choi said. “I am familiar with the course and my shot is coming around of late.”

Choi struggled last season due to a back injury and started this year ranked 96th in the world.

However, with solid showings early on this season, he improved to 45th in the world to earn a spot at the Masters.

Kim is coming off a win in the Houston Open earlier this week and is in great form. He is hoping to carry his improved putting and momentum from the Houston Open win into Augusta.

Yang, who won the PGA Championship last year to become the first Asian male ever to win a major, will look to surprise people again. This is Yang’s third Masters and after failing to get past the qualifying stage last season, he is eager to make an impression this time around.

“I completed my preparations for the Masters at the Houston Open,” stated Yang. “Using the experience of winning a major last season, I’ll try my best in Augusta.”

Aside from the three veterans, three young golfers will compete in their first Masters.

An earned a spot as the winner of the 2009 U.S. Amateur Championship. Han qualified by winning the 2009 Asian Amateur Championship. Na, also know by his Korean name, Sang-wook, is a Korean-American golfer with an accurate iron shot and steady play of late.

By Moon Seung-jin, Jason Kim [jason@joongang.co.kr]
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