AUGUSTA, Ga. – K.J. Choi hoisted his approach at the par-4 14th hole high into a breezy sky and watched with the pleased look of a man who knew a secret few others have figured out.
“That shot,” said Steve Bann, Choi’s swing coach, “he couldn’t have done that last year.”
The new Choi is long, at least a club longer with his irons if not more, content with what’s in his bag and two strokes off the lead at the Masters after opening with rounds of 67-71.
After his most pedestrian year on Tour in 2009 (one top 10), Choi began his rise just before the Maybank Malaysian Open when he switched back to the extra large grip on his putter, the same he used in 2007 when he won the Memorial and AT&T National. He finished second in Malaysia and at his next stop at the Transitions Championship.
Bann also said Choi has finally bought into the swing changes they have been working on, which has made him longer and able to work the ball either way, which was why his second at No. 14 was a perfect example of how far he has come.
“With a pin cut to the left and with a left-to-right wind like that he is now able to hit a high draw and hold it in the wind,” Bann said. “Couldn’t have done that before with his fade.”