Choi Feels at Home at BMW Asian Open


European TourWith the heart of the European Tour schedule just around the corner, the tour this week heads halfway across the globe for the BMW Asian Open in Shanghai.
Leading the Asian contingent will be regular PGA Tour member K.J. Choi, Asian Tour No. 1 Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand and the People's Republic of Chinas No. 1 Zhang Lian-Wei.
They will be joined by the some of golf's biggest names with the likes of Padraig Harrington, Greg Norman and Miguel Angel Jimenez battling for the $1,500,000 purse.
Choi, who played on the Asian Tour before qualifying for the PGA Tour through Q-School in the fall of 1999, became the first Korean player ever to win on not only the PGA Tour but also on the European Tour.
Recently finishing third at the 2004 Masters, Choi won twice on the PGA Tour in 2002, first at the Compaq Classic then at the Tampa Bay Classic. He then followed those wins up with a victory at the 2003 Linde German Masters and ultimately a spot on the 2003 Presidents Cup team.
Growing up the son of a rice farmer in South Korea, Choi, who has climbed all the way up to 19th in the world rankings, began his career in golf by studying Jack Nicklaus videos and hitting range balls at the only driving range on his tiny hometown island in Korea.
He is currently 16th on the PGA Tour's money list on the strength of three top-5 finishes.
Choi will prepare to do battle with his other Asian counterparts in Lian-Wei and Jaidee.
Jaidee, who had a great start to the 2004 season with three straight top-5s, won his maiden European Tour title at the Carlsberg Malaysian Open in February. He finished in a tie for 34th in this past week's British Masters.
Lian-Wei, who became the first Chinese player to win on the European Tour when he birdied the final hole to defeat Ernie Els at the 2003 Caltex Masters, is steadily becoming one of Asia's better players.
Though not yet on the same level as Choi, Lian-Wei nevertheless showed promise at this year's Masters - to which he received a special invitation - although he missed the cut by a stroke. A three-time Chinese amateur champion, he has to his credit a slew of Chinese and Asia Tour titles, including back-to-back Macau Open titles in 2001 and 2002.
The BMW Asian Open is co-sanctioned by both the European Tour and the Chinese Golf Association and will be the first tournament on the European Tour to be played in China at the Tomson Shanghai Pudong Golf Club.
Related links:
  • Field - BMW Asian Open
  • Full Coverage - BMW Asian Open