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Choi wins Asian Golfer of the Year Award

Korean PGA Tour member KJ Choi won the 2002 Johnnie Walker Asian Golfer of the Year award. He received the award at a dinner Saturday night for the Johnnie Walker Classic in Australia.

The former Asian PGA star became the first Korean and fourth Asian to win on the PGA Tour last year when he claimed the Compaq Classic of New Orleans. He went on to win the Tampa Bay Classic.

Choi was unable to attend the dinner as he was competing in the Buick Invitational at Torrey Pines.

In the first of Choi's 2002 triumphs he recorded a four-stroke victory at the English Turn Golf and Country Club in May to join Taiwan's TC Chen and Japan's Shigeki Maruyama and Isao Aoki as the only other Asian golfer to win on the PGA Tour.

Choi bagged his second title after a commanding seven-stroke victory in the Tampa Bay Classic in September. The Korean ended the year in 17th place on the PGA Tour money list with a haul of $2.2 million. His brilliant rise to the top has assured him starts in all four majors this year, including his first appearance in The Masters.

Choi also teamed up with compatriot Hur Suk-ho at the end of last year to take third place in the World Cup in Mexico.

Choi, who trained as a powerlifter in his teens, won the Korean Open twice in 1996 and 1999 and also played on the Japan Golf Tour Organization in 1999 and won two titles there. In 1999, he successfully navigated the PGA Tour qualifying school.


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