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Choi named Asian Golfer of the Year

Korean KJ Choi has been named Johnnie Walker Asian Golfer of the Year following his three victories in 1999, a great run in theOpen and qualification for the 2000 PGA Tour.

Choi, who starts his 2000 campaign on the PGA Tour at the Sony Open, won three Johnnie Walker Asian Golfer of the Month Awards during the year. Beating two-time winners Kyi Hla Ha and Jeev Milkha Singh to the coveted title.

The former junior weightlifter lifted Asian golf to great heights with his performances during the year. Great things are expected of him in the next decade.

Choi succeeds Se Ri Pak as the Johnnie Walker Asian Golfer of the Year and the annual Roll of Honour also includes Japan'sIsao Aoki, Thailand's Boonchu Ruangkit and countrymanPrayad Marksaeng.

"My successes in 1999 have been like a dream -- I would just like to thank everybody who has given me support during my time playing in Korea and on the Asian PGA," said Choi. "Especially I would like to thank my parents who encouraged me not to give up my dream, and my wife, who sacrificed so much and supported me throughout the years.

"I am looking forward to the campaign on the PGA Tour and started a physical training schedule in December. It's important to be extremely fit to play week after week at the highest level."

Choi became the first non-Japanese Asian to make it through the tough six-round PGA Tour Qualifying School at Doral Golf Resort and Spa, in November. He finished in 35th position, right on the cutoff line, with an 8-under-par total of412 (66, 67, 74, 68, 70 and 67).

"I had to hold back tears of joy when I qualified," said Choi, 29."I hugged my wife and gave a thank you prayer to God.At that moment, the faces of all those people who helped me during my hard times flashed by."

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