Born: May 19, 1970
Birthplace: Wando, Korea
Weight: 185 lbs.
Turned Pro: 1994
As a teenager K.J. Choi didn't take much interest in golf. Instead he spent his time outside of school as a powerlifter. In fact it wasn't until the age of 16 that K.J. began to take up golf on the advice of one of his teachers.
Despite his late start into the game, K.J. learned quickly. After playing for only eight years, at the age of 24 he turned pro playing in Asian Tour events. In 1999 he won two events in Japan and then followed that up with a final round 68 at the PGA Qualifying School to earn fully exempt status onto the PGA Tour in 2000.
Since joining the PGA Tour in 2000 the soft-spoken Choi has already gained notable success. He has finished in the top 30 money winners in each of the last three years with over two million dollars in earnings in 2004.
K.J. is a star in his homeland of Korea and regularly has more than a dozen reporters following him on the tour. He joins Shigeki Maruyama as the only other Asian born player with multiple wins on the PGA Tour and is only the fourth Asian born player with a PGA Tour victory. He now has his sights set on a Major victory but by his own admission needs to improve his short game.
PGA TOUR Victories
(2) 2002 Compaq Classic of New Orleans, Tampa Bay Classic presented by Buick.
(6): 1996 Korean Open. 1999 Ube Kosan Open [Jpn], Kirin Open [Jpn], Kolon Korean Open. 2003 Linde German Masters [Eur], S.K. Telecom Open [Asia].
The equipment in K.J. Choi's bag tends to stay the same week-in-week-out. He is not the type of golfer to constantly adjust or tinker with his clubs. Currently he is a Taylor Made staff player but rumor has it we will see him sign with Nike in the next couple of months. He has already put some new Nike product in his bag.
For a couple years Choi used the Taylor Made 580 Tour Preferred driver. In early summer 2004 he put the Taylor Made R7 Quad TP in his bag. Like many top golfers K.J. uses a short driver, only 43 ¼" inches in length. The bright orange shaft that K.J. is known for is a MCC/Apache MFS Matrix graphite shaft. This shaft is designed to increase launch angle, decrease spin rates, and increase energy transfer. It is a 68 gram shaft with 2.9 degrees of torque and a mid kick point. Eventually we could see K.J. with a Nike Ignite driver but for now this is the model of choice.
Like many touring pros, K.J. is now using one fairway wood; a thirteen degree Taylor Made V-Steel also fitted with the MFS Matrix shaft, plus a hybrid club. The hybrid club is a Taylor Made Rescue 16 degree that has a MCC/Apache MFS 115 shaft. This shaft is 115 grams with 2.1 degrees torque and a mid-high kick point.
The biggest hint that K.J. will likely be playing Nike clubs soon is the fact that he is currently playing their irons. In fall 2004 he switched from his Taylor Made 300 Forged irons to the Nike Forged blade irons 3-PW. These irons have the same MFS 115 shaft as his Rescue Club. Choi is still playing his Titleist Vokey wedges 52 and 60 degree because he feels that these best match the feel of his ProV1X golf ball. Look for that to change soon to the Nike Forged Wedge and Nike One Black golf ball.
K.J. is using a putter from Yes! Golf. A rapidly growing putter company with the patented C-Groove technology. K.J. is one of several tour players using one of their putters. The model he uses is the Callie, an Anser style putter that is customized to his specs including an alignment on the top of the head.
Like I said at the start, there is a very good chance that Nike will be signing K.J. Choi to an equipment deal in the near future. If and when that happens expect more of his equipment to change over to Nike but keep the trademark orange shafts.
UPDATE Jan 17/05 – Nike Golf has now officially signed K.J. Choi. This was really no surprise seeing that K.J. has been using Nike irons for a while. Watch for Choi to use the 410CC Nike Ignite driver, Nike Forged Pro Combo irons, Nike wedges and the Nike One Black ball. We should also see him in a series of Nike Golf commercials too.