Korean star Choi knows patience is key in Major hopes at British Open

Lytham St Annes, England: Korean star K.J. Choi is anxious to break his Major ‘duck’ but knows fully well that patience will be the key at The Open Championship which starts on Thursday.

The 42-year-old Choi, who is an Asian Tour honorary member, is hopeful of joining countryman Y.E. Yang in the exclusive Major club and has come close on several occasions at The Open, which is the year’s third Major.

In 2007, he finished tied eighth in Carnoustie while in the following year at Royal Birkdale, Choi was the halfway leader before settling for equal 16th place. His third place finish at the Masters Tournament in 2004 remains his best Major result.

“Twice, I was near the winning score (in The Open). But the last day, I had a lot of trouble. This year, I will try to keep my patience and to keep my score. Nobody knows who will win,” said Choi, who is an eight-time winner on the U.S. Tour.

Ranked 34th in the world now, Choi concedes that his 2012 season has been lukewarm with only on top-10 to show for but in his last five starts, the Korean strongman has finished three times in the top-20 including at the U.S. Open last month.

“Getting older, it feels different,” said Choi with a smile. “Catching the ball on the club is different. This year has been a little slow, but still a survival. This is my fourth week in a row and I’m a bit jetlag but the energy is good. I like the golf course here,” said Choi, who has not missed The Open since 2002.

“(Coach) Steve Bahn has been working on my swing, hitting strong low and high shots, making cut or draw. I know the swing but in tournament, it is difficult to make it. Sometimes the pressure comes and you can’t do it.”

With occasional rain and winds greeting Royal Lytham and St Annes since the start of the week, Choi, who is the first Asian Tour graduate who made it big in America, is relishing the prospects of launching a title challenge this week.

“English weather, I love it … four seasons in one day,” he said. “Here, it’s different. The wind is strong and it’s difficult to control the ball because when it’s wet, the spin is different due to the contact on the clubface.

“It’s very difficult course. My caddie (Andy Prodger) says bunker is out of bounds this week. We need to be accurate and keep the ball on the fairways. I play every year, I come and I enjoy playing here. People are supporting and cheering me. Spectators respect the players.

“Golf is about the mental state, you keep going on every hole and every shot must be the best shot. I am an entertainer on the golf course, I will try to play my best and everybody will be happy. You need more imagination on this course but I love it,” he added.