PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Hosung Choi’s “fisherman” swing, with his eccentric follow-through that looks like something between a stumble and a dance step, won over the galleries Thursday at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, his playing partner Jerry Kelly and Choi’s playing partner Chris O’Donnell seemed to enjoy the show as much as the fans.
“He doesn't know a ton of English, but you could see the joy he has when he plays,” Rodgers said. “He's a good player.”
The galleries chuckled and cheered with Choi’s every funky follow-through.
“They were fantastic,” Kelly said. “They were yelling, 'We love you, Hosung.' They were sending out a lot to him. He was great. He would always turn around and give them a wave.”
Choi, a late-blooming, 45-year-old South Korean with four victories on the Korean and Japanese tours, overcame a sluggish start to shoot a 1-over-par 72.
“I tried not to be nervous, but I was nervous over the first few holes,” said Choi, who is playing on a sponsor’s exemption.
Choi was 4 over after a bogey at the 10th, but he birdied three holes on the back nine.
“I definitely felt the love from my fans, and I felt like that pushed me more to focus on the back nine,” Choi said.
Rodgers and Kelly lobbied hard for the pairing. After seeing viral videos, Rodgers said Choi was the only player he ever saw do more gyrations after a shot than Kelly.
“My long lost brother,” Kelly tweeted after first seeing Choi highlights.
Kelly loved seeing Choi’s quirky footwork up close.
“I really love the action,” Kelly said. “It made me want to get my leg into it just a little bit, and see if I can get a little extra.
“But, no, his fundamentals at impact are pretty darn good, and he can shift it and roll it. So, there's no reason that he can't compete.”