Korean golfer makes silver screen debut

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Korean golfer makes silver screen debut


Korean golfer K.J. Choi, third from left, appears at the premiere of “Seven Days in Utopia” in Atlanta with director Matt Russell, fourth from left, actors Robert Duvall, first from left, Lucas Black, second from left, and golfers Rickie Fowler, third from right, Stewart Cink, second from right, and Rich Beem, right. By Moon Seung-jin

As the winner of 18 professional golf tournaments, including the recent 2011 Players Championship, Korean golfer Choi Kyung-ju, also known as K. J. Choi, is used to being in the limelight. But he will be seen for the first time on the silver screen in a new film about golfing that is slated for release early this fall.

“Seven Days in Utopia” is a sport film based on author David Cook’s best-selling novel “Golf’s Sacred Journey: Seven Days at the Links of Utopia.” The movie is about Luke Chisholm, played by Lucas Black, who is a rising young golfer. When Chisholm unexpectedly gets stranded in Utopia, Texas, for a week, he experiences and overcomes hardships as he grasps the importance of his future.

Choi plays the role of tenacious Asian golfer TK Oh. His on-screen appearance comes when he and Chisholm both win the Texas Open.

Choi appeared at a preview of the film on Monday at the Cobb Energy Performing Art Center in Atlanta, GA. Also present were director Matt Russell, actors Robert Duvall and Lucas Black and a stable of pro golfers, including Stewart Cink, Rich Beem and Rickie Fowler.

As soon as he made his entrance, Choi was greeted by a multitude of flashbulbs. Later, he treated broadcasters FOX, CBS, Golf Channel and ATL to interviews.

It was a true red carpet event, except that instead of a red carpet there was a green one.

“This movie helps the protagonist to realize the importance of life through golf, which allowed me to participate in the film,” said Choi. “We filmed for five days. All of the scenes with the exception of one are done without any special effects.”

Cook decided he wanted to work with Choi after seeing him play in July’s John Deere Classic on the PGA Tour. Choi captured the attention of viewers with his unique putting style, with his left hand on top of the club and his right in the middle, which is the opposite of what most golfers do.

“I was watching Choi Kyung-ju play and my friend Tom Raymond recommended that if I could not find a suitable actor, then Choi would be a perfect match,” said Cook. “Among Asian pro golfers, Choi exuded a sense of confidence and tenacity that I admired.”

In the movie, Chisholm mimics Choi’s putting style.

Choi said that teeing off is still more nerve-racking than shooting a movie.

“It was an enjoyable experience,” explained Choi. “Although I didn’t have that many lines, I didn’t know that it would take so long to shoot one scene. This is the first and last movie of my life.”

“Seven Days in Utopia” will be released on Sept. 2 in the United States but a release date has not yet been set for Korea.

By Moon Seung-jin [enational@joongang.co.kr]
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