WASHINGTON: South Korean golfer Choi Ho-sung, who has developed a social media cult following for his “Fisherman Swing”, plays only his second US PGA event at this week’s John Deere Classic.
The 45-year-old is playing in the final US tuneup event for next week’s British Open on a sponsor’s exemption after missing the cut in his American debut at Pebble Beach in February.
“I’m so thankful to be playing here,” Choi said. “I can’t thank the tournament enough and I can’t wait to show my fun swing to everybody in the US.”
Choi, whose unique step-over follow through has attracted YouTube fans worldwide, won the Japan Tour’s Casio World Open last November and took the 2013 Indonesia PGA Championship.
“I just want to make the cut and see where it goes from there,” Choi said.
Choi grew up in Pohang, the son of a fisherman father and free-diver mother who was ineligible for military service due to a thumb injury and turned to golf after getting a job at a course, using golf magazines and years of work to develop his own unique style with the clubs.
“I personally love my swing,” Choi said. “It’s a swing that I’ve come up with on my own for a long time, and it’s a swing that has worked for me, so I personally have no issues with my swing, and I plan to use it moving forward.”
Among Choi’s fans is Green Bay Packers’ Super Bowl champion quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who was paired with Choi at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
“I couldn’t really put into words all the support I received at Pebble Beach,” Choi said. “It was my first experience in the US and for fans to just swarm around me and to be at every hole, it has just been so overwhelming. I’m just so incredibly thankful to all the fans that showed their love for me. That was a really special moment for me.”
The par-71 TPC Deere Run layout at Silvis, Illinois, will test Choi this week.
“The course is so beautiful,” he said. “But I noticed if I missed the greens, it was really tough to get up-and-down, so that will be something that I’ll be working on this week.”
Something from ‘Transformers’
Choi, who also plans to play in Reno in two weeks, had never seen one of the sponsor’s signature tractors until this week.
“I haven’t had the opportunity to drive one, but I saw a lot of it set up near the entryway, so I took a lot of pictures,” Choi said.
“I got to sit in the tractor, and it reminded me of something from the movie ‘Transformers’. It was so cool.”
Choi could transform himself into a British Open qualifier this week as the best top-five finisher not already qualified for Royal Portrush will earn a spot in next week’s field in the year’s final major tournament.
A plane will fly the qualifiers from the Quad Cities area to Europe for the event after Sunday’s final round.