An Interview With: K.J. Choi
CLAUDE NIELSEN: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. It's a real pleasure to welcome back K.J. Choi for his ninth Masters appearance with his best finish, third in 2004. He has seven PGA Tour and eight international victories. K.J. finished his first round of competition with a 67 and after his second round of competition, he is 7 under-par. Congratulations on a great round, and we'll take a few comments, K.J. and then open it up for questions.
K.J. CHOI: On the front nine, I had a good start, but you know, making the turn, I felt the wind was changing. Plus on top of that, the pin positions were pretty difficult, but I kept my swing rhythm was pretty good throughout the whole round.
Although I bogeyed the last hole, I think my demeanor is still good, and I'm looking forward to the next two days.
Q. Thinking back to last year's British Open and now this year with the use of the hybrids, are you by nature an experimenter as a golfer and is there a risk to do that in a big competition like major championships?
K.J. CHOI: I think my personality is that I want to try whatever is in my mind, I have to get it out. I have to try it and test it out. That's just the type of person I am.
I think the worst thing you can do to yourself is wanting to do something, but not having the courage to do it. And I don't want to be the type of person that regrets not testing something out when I feel that it's right.
Q. Are you surprised it's working so well?
K.J. CHOI: I think it's working out. I think for the most part, whatever that I think that I feel is going to work, it tends to work out. I'm glad that it hasn't backfired on me yet.
Q. You got off to a good start today. Can you tell us about your birdies on 2, 4 and 6?
K.J. CHOI: No. 2, left side of the bunker. Bunker shot is 20 yards and four feet, one putt, birdie.
Then No. 4, par 3 is 175 yards and then 7 iron, then downhill, 15 feet, one putt.
No. 6, par 3, 196 yards 6 iron, and hook lie, 15 feet, one putt.
13, the third shot is 95 yards, sand wedge, three feet, one putt.
The last hole, 15 feet, three putt, bogey.
Q. You talked about being willing to try things. You went to the forward facing putting style. How long did that last, and why did that not last long?
K.J. CHOI: When I first tried it out, the reason I tried that putter out, the style, I'm right eye dominant, I felt like I wasn't reading the lies correctly and missing to the left. I always thought when you face a target that might be a good idea. And by chance, I was introduced to that putter, and I actually agreed with the concept. I felt like the concept in theory was very good. But in reality when I tried it during tournaments, when the putts were over 20 feet, I sort of felt distance control was a problem and it's something that you have to get used to practicing a lot. But you never know. I think if everything if nothing works, I might go back to that putter sometime in the future, who knows.
Q. Can you tell us about your power lifting career, how long it started and how long it lasted, that sort of thing?
K.J. CHOI: I started weight lifting when I was about 13 years old for about two years, maybe about ninth grade.
The problem was although I practiced really hard, my arms were about two centimeters longer than your average person, and that's quite a disadvantage when you're trying to squat it or snatch it. So the kids, the competitors who were younger than me were actually overtaking me.
So I was losing tournaments. My coach actually advised that I not continue the sport. So at the young age, it actually gave me a good body, nice, solid foundation, and it gave me a good work out at least. But golf, coupled with the flexibility in golf, I think it actually helps me with power at tournaments.
Q. What was the maximum weight you lifted?
K.J. CHOI: I squatted about 155 kilograms.
Q. In terms of preparations for this week's event, looking back on some of the things this gentleman was talking about with hybrids, you carried two in your bag at Doral, three at Bay Hill and four here. Has that been the plan to build up to this event, or is it the success that you had with them previously sort of really built up for this week?
K.J. CHOI: I felt the need to three weeks ago, I felt the need, in order to contend at major tournaments, I felt the need to get the ball up in the air better, higher, and to be able to stop the ball on the greens better.
And that's why I put the hybrids in the bag. You know, when I actually tried it, it made my par 3s much easier to play. I still don't feel like I'm 100 percent comfortable with those hybrids, but I still plan on continuing to use them, because at least I believe that and my coach believes, that you need at least three weeks to get used to any new change that you make, whether it's clubs or swing or whatever it is.
CLAUDE NIELSEN: Thank you, ladies and gentlemen.