K.J. Choi may have not won a major championship, but there is no question he is worthy of wearing a green jacket or kissing the Claret Jug.
“I really didn’t start thinking about winning a major until about four years ago,” he said. “This year being my 12th year on the PGA Tour, I really didn’t think that I was capable of winning, having an actual shot at winning a major tournament until four years ago.”
In that four-year stretch, Choi has won four times, including the 2007 Memorial Tournament and AT&T National, and this year’s Player’s Championship. His major record since 2007 may not be that stellar — three top 10 finishes and seven missed cuts in the last 18 majors — but it is not a detriment.
“I think my mindset has changed since then,” said Choi, who has eight PGA Tour victories to go along with eight more international wins. “I think my game is good enough to win a major, and even if I don’t end up winning a major, I don’t have any regrets because all I can say is that I’ve tried my best at every tournament that I’ve played.”
He certainly is trying at this week’s AT&T National. On Friday, Choi posted a 6-under 64, setting the tournament course record in the two years at Aronimink Golf Club. At the halfway point, he owned a two-stroke lead.
Choi, 41, has carved a reputation as one of the tour’s hardest working players. For the tour’s younger players, they could not do much better in emulating one of the older players.
His words should resonate.
The message that I want to get across to all the young players is that you have to really be able to maintain your lifestyle,” he said earlier this season. “I think I was able to do that, I was able to focus, I was able to maintain physically and mentally my body very well. I still had the confidence that I could play well out there. I train hard, I practice hard, and I think all the young players need to do that.
“And I think you need to live your life to the fullest. I don’t mean partying all the time. Live a systematic, regimented life, always be humble. That’s my motto.
And it’s that mindset that may when him a major — if not this week’s AT&T National.
Stuart Hall is editor of the Golf Press Association.