You are not permitted to download, save or email this image. Visit image gallery to purchase the image.
Korea's KJ Choi, arguably the most successful golfer to come out of Asia, will compete at the New Zealand Open in Queenstown in March.
Choi, one of the top 25 players on the all-time money list, joins defending champion Michael Hendry and fellow New Zealanders Ryan Fox, Tim Wilkinson and Steven Alker, among the first to confirm for New Zealand’s premier golf tournament.
The Open will be at Millbrook Resort and The Hills near Queenstown on March 1-4.Choi (47) has enjoyed 20 professional wins worldwide, with eight wins on the PGA Tour including the 2011 Players Championship and has amassed over $NZ50 million in prizemoney in his career to date.
"I’m motivated to continue playing because of the fans. This is my 19th season on the PGA Tour and 25th year playing professional golf," he said.
"I’m still hungry to achieve. It’s not easy but I really want to send a message to young players that it begins with diligence and preparation.
"I’m no longer the young gun but I play every tournament believing in myself that I can do great things.
"I would love to be able to win a few more times on the PGA Tour, which is one of my biggest goals, and I am also looking forward to three years’ time when I can join the Champions Tour."
Tournament chairman John Hart, said Choi’s entry was a further demonstration of the burgeoning international status of the event, which will be broadcast to 151 countries in 2018.Choi recorded
some firsts for Korean golfers: the first to gain a PGA Tour card, and the first to win a PGA Tour event in 2002 when he won twice. He followed this with a further win on the PGA Tour and the German Open the following year. By 2007 he had moved into the top 10 in the world, peaking the following year with a world ranking of No5.
His Players Championship victory came in 2011 at TPC Sawgrass when he beat David Toms in a playoff, while he has played in the World Cup for Korea three times and in the Presidents Cup on three occasions.
He is based in Texas and retains his PGA Tour status because of his place among the top 25 on the all-time Tour money list.
Further player announcements are expected in the coming weeks.