09 February, 2019: The first two days of Ho Sung Choi’s PGA TOUR debut haven’t gone quite according to plan. He is 5-over par through his first 36 holes and appears to be a long shot at making the cut into Sunday’s final round.
But any on-course struggles have thus far failed to offset his friendly demeanor and positive attitude.
“I think it’s important to have a dream,” Choi said. “After all of my experiences on the Japan Golf Tour and the Asian Tour, I’m so proud of myself to make it on the PGA TOUR. I think I could speak on behalf of all players that winning on the PGA TOUR is a dream for everyone. I’m very proud to have had this experience this week.”
Choi shot a 3-over 75 on Friday at Spyglass Hill Golf Course and, at 4 over for the week at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, is currently seven shots off the projected cutline. But there he was following his round, as happy as ever and excited for the future.
Five players were tied for the lead at 10 under, including Phil Mickelson and Jordan Spieth, when heavy rains delayed the finish of the second round. Play will resume at 7:10 a.m. local time on Saturday.
“My goal for tomorrow is to hit an under-par score,” he said. “I’m going to give it my best like I did the first two rounds, and hopefully it will result in a good score.”
The 45-year-old once again struggled to get a feel for the greens, as birdie opportunities came up just short on five different holes. At times, he paused and stared at the greens long after his playing partners had departed for the next tee box, no doubt perplexed by the trouble he was having with the putter.
“I had a hard time reading the greens,” he said. “There were a lot of times when the slopes and undulations on the greens were pretty severe. When I would hit my approach shots, even if I hit a good one, it would just roll off the green. I had a hard time with that.”
Even still, the viral sensation with the unique fisherman swing still managed to captivate the gallery following him. After a bunker shot on the par-3 12th came within inches of hole, he jumped up and down clicking his shoes to get a laugh out of the crowd.
He chatted with fans throughout the morning, and playfully gave a hip thrust and “Ho Sung!” chant back at a group rooting for him. His famous spin move on the 14th green drew big laughs when he nearly connected a long putt from the fringe, and he gave fans a huge fist pump on a birdie at the par-5 seventh. One of his playing partners, N.F.L. quarterback Aaron Rodgers, celebrated with a loud “let’s go!” cheer in Korean.
His group learned a few key phrases in Choi’s native language, and the Japan Golf Tour star reiterated the gesture with a couple English words in return.
“I only used the words that I knew,” Choi said, laughing, “which was ‘very good, nice shot,’ so I used that a lot.”
Choi may not win his TOUR debut, or even make the cut, but he still views this week as a positive experience.
And, if all goes according to plan, it won’t be his last. “If there’s an opportunity (to play on TOUR again), absolutely,” he said. “I’ll play until the day my body gives up on the golf course. I’d love the opportunity.”