Chois Bois

By Jason SobelMay 16, 2011, 4:15 am

The Players ChampionshipPONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – This is not a love story.

Five years ago, a group of good ol’ boys from Nashville, Tenn., journeyed to The Players Championship. There was Bobby Page, his two college-aged sons and a few of their pals. All nice guys, the kind with infectious smiles and contagious laughs that can make friends with a stranger in no time at all.

It was your typical buddies’ golf trip. They watched golf, played golf and talked about golf. It was so much fun, they turned it into an annual tradition, making the pilgrimage to TPC Sawgrass for every edition of the event since.

Prior to last year, though, they were fans without a mission. They cheered for the great shots and sighed for the disappointing ones, but their attention had no direction.

Until they found K.J. Choi.

“We were sitting between 16 and 17 and some golfers were coming through,” Alex Kirkland recalled. “They were upset and cussing. Then K.J. comes through; he’s just grinning ear to ear. Ever since then, I was like, he’s just a friendly fellow.”

The Players Championship
Choi was noticed by his fans for his good manners on the course. (Getty Images)
The longtime PGA Tour veteran didn’t have the resume of Tiger Woods or the electric smile of Phil Mickelson or the star-power potential of Rickie Fowler. He did, however, have one thing going for him that appealed to the golf fanatics.

As Bobby Page put it, “We just kept noticing how nice a guy he is.”

And so was born “Choi’s Bois,” an unlikely fan club based solely on the fact that a group of guys from Nashville wanted to root for a player from South Korea simply because they liked him.

No, this is not a love story. It's a like story.

When they returned this year, the group came outfitted in black t-shirts with its lyrical name printed on front. They wore ‘em every day, following their new favorite player all over the course, ignoring all social mores about cheering loudly for a non-superstar and keeping hygiene issues to a minimum.

“We’re probably a little rank,” Page admitted after four days in his shirt. “We’ve been wearing these since Thursday.”

They may never take them off.

That’s because in the first year as an official faction, “Choi’s Bois” witnessed their new hero claim the most important victory of his lengthy career, outlasting David Toms in a playoff to earn the crystal trophy at one of the game’s most prestigious events.

“It’s been a bunch of emotional highs and lows,” David Clayton explained. “He left a few shots out there and we got down a little bit, but we always had hope that he would come through and he did on 17. He hit some incredible shots. We’re all pumped up and excited.”

They’re not the only ones.

You may think big-time golfers are accustomed to signing autographs and having fans yell their names from behind the ropes – and that’s true, to an extent.

When a player gets honored with his own on-course entourage, though, it means a little more than the average applause.

Just ask Choi.

“They showed me a lot of support, a lot of love,” he said through an interpreter Sunday evening. “For them to come all the way from Tennessee to watch me play? Imagine, I have no relationship with them. This is the first time I’ve ever seen them. For them to fly all the way over just because they like me as a player and to support me they way that they did, I’m very appreciative. It’s really spectacular to see something like that.”

Choi enjoyed their continuous company throughout his rounds so much that he asked them if they could all take a photo together – not the other way around – breaking a long-standing unspoken rule that it’s the fans who are supposed to initiate that type of memento instead of the players.

But remember, Choi is a nice guy – the very reason “Choi’s Bois” started rooting for him in the first place.

“He really appreciated it,” Page said. “We’ve had a ball and he’s been very nice to us. We built a lot of memories while we’ve been down here. That’s what it’s all about.”

“He just loves the game and plays it the right way,” Curtis Gribble added. “He’s just a joy to watch. When he bogeys a hole, if anybody claps, he acknowledges them – more than any other golfer out here. You can tell he just loves what he’s doing and enjoys the fans. He just knows it’s special to be out here.”

It was at that point when Page interjected, reminding Gribble of an earlier acknowledgement from their favorite golfer.

“Hey, he said he loves you,” Page recalled with a laugh.

Maybe this is a love story after all. At least, as Gribble concluded, “In a roundabout kind of way.”


Follow Jason Sobel on Twitter @JasonSobelGC
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UCLA junior Vu named WGCA Player of the Year

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 22, 2018, 3:23 pm

UCLA junior Lilia Vu was named Player of the Year on Tuesday by the Women’s Golf Coaches Association (WGCA).

Vu recorded the lowest full-season scoring average (70.37) in UCLA history. Her four tournament wins tied the school record for most victories in a single season.

Vu was also named to the WGCA All-America first team. Here's a look at the other players who joined her on the prestigious list:

WGCA First Team All-Americans

  • Maria Fassi, Junior, University of Arkansas
  • Kristen Gillman, Sophomore, University of Alabama
  • Jillian Hollis, Junior, University of Georgia
  • Cheyenne Knight, Junior, University of Alabama
  • Jennifer Kupcho, Junior, Wake Forest University
  • Andrea Lee, Sophomore, Stanford University
  • Leona Maguire, Senior, Duke University
  • Sophia Schubert, Senior, University of Texas
  • Lauren Stephenson, Junior, University of Alabama
  • Maddie Szeryk, Senior, Texas A&M University
  • Patty Tavatanakit, Freshman, UCLA
  • Lilia Vu, Junior, UCLA
Chris Stroud and caddie Casey Clendenon Getty Images

Stroud's caddie wins annual PGA Tour caddie tournament

By Rex HoggardMay 22, 2018, 3:15 pm

Casey Clendenon, who caddies for Chris Stroud, won the gross division of the annual PGA Tour caddie tournament on Monday, shooting a 5-under 66 at Trinity Forest Golf Club, site of last week’s AT&T Byron Nelson.

Scott Tway (65), who caddies for Brian Harman, won the net division by two strokes over Wayne Birch, Troy Merritt’s caddie.

Kyle Bradley, Jonathan Byrd’s caddie, took second place with a 71 in the gross division.

The tournament was organized by the Association of Professional Tour Caddies, and proceeds from the event went to two charities. The APTC donated $20,000 to Greg Chalmers’ charity, MAXimumChances.org, which aids families living with autism. The association also donated $10,000 to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. 

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Bjorn adds four Ryder Cup veterans as vice captains

By Will GrayMay 22, 2018, 1:05 pm

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn has added a quartet of vice captains for the biennial matches this fall in Paris.

Bjorn had already named Robert Karlsson as his first assistant, and he announced Tuesday at the BMW PGA Championship that his group of advisors will also include major champions Padraig Harrington and Graeme McDowell, and former world No. 1s Lee Westwood and Luke Donald.

Westwood is among Europe's most decorated Ryder Cup players, and his addition in this role signals he likely won't participate as a player in the matches for the first time since 1995. The Englishman has spoken openly about his desire to captain the European squad at Whistling Straits in 2020, but he's been quiet on the course in recent months, with a missed secondary cut at the Houston Open his only start since mid-February.

Harrington is seen as another possible captain for the 2020 matches, and he'll don an earpiece for the third straight Ryder Cup, having represented Europe as a player on six straight teams from 1999-2010.

Donald played on four Ryder Cup teams from 2004-12, with the Europeans winning each time he was on the roster. This will mark his first stint as a vice captain, as Donald announced last month that he would be sidelined indefinitely while recovering from a back injury.

At age 38, McDowell will be the youngest vice captain in the room, having holed the winning putt eight years ago at Celtic Manor. He won the French Open in both 2013 and 2014 at Le Golf National, site of this year's matches, and will also be making his debut as a vice captain.

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Bidder pays $50,000 to caddie for Woods

By Grill Room TeamMay 22, 2018, 12:28 pm

Someone has paid $50,000 to caddie for Tiger Woods at this year’s Hero World Challenge.

An unnamed bidder paid for the opportunity at an auction Saturday night at Tiger Jam, where monies are raised to support the Tiger Woods Foundation.



The Hero World Challenge will be contested Nov. 29-Dec. in Albany, Bahamas. The pro-am is scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 28.