Golf-‘Island shot’ helps KJ Choi set South Korean record on 54th birthday

By Thomson Reuters May 20, 2024 | 12:26 AM

(Reuters) – Former world number five KJ Choi became the oldest golfer to win a tournament on the Korean PGA Tour (KPGA) at the weekend, when he prevailed on the second playoff hole at the SK Telecom Open on his 54th birthday.

Sunday’s victory broke a 12-year drought on his home tour for Choi, who won eight titles on the PGA Tour between 2002 and 2011 and was heading straight back to Texas on Monday to resume life on the U.S. senior tour.

Choi started the final day at Pinx Golf Club with a five-shot lead that was whittled down through the day, and a bogey at the last meant he was forced into a playoff with Park Sang-hyun.

The 2011 Players’ Championship winner thought his hopes of a fourth SK Telecom Open and 17th KPGA title had sunk in the greenside water at the first playoff hole.

“I thought my second shot had gone into the water, but seeing the gallery’s reaction made me feel like the ball might still be alive,” Choi told reporters on the holiday island of Jeju.

“The ball was on a small island. The shot I took there, the ‘island shot’, is something I will never forget. I really wanted to win this tournament.”

Choi punched the ball off the rocky island and onto the green with a wedge to rescue par, which he matched on the second playoff hole to clinch the title as Park slumped to a bogey.

Asked for any suggestions for middle-aged golfers, Choi recommended that they follow the lifestyle changes he has made in recent years.

“First of all, you need to eat well and quit drinking,” he said.

“And you need to sleep well. You should never do anything that is harmful to your body. Regular exercise is also necessary.”

(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)