South Koreans have made their presence known on the PGA Tour for quite some time, so it is probably overdue that this week the U.S. tour will put on its first regular-season tournament in the country, the inaugural CJ Cup at Nine Bridges.
The tournament will be held at the Club at Nine Bridges (pictured) on Jeju Island.
“I’m deeply moved that I will be playing at the first PGA Tour event in South Korea,” said 47-year-old K.J. Choi, the most accomplished South Korean male golfer with 22 professional victories, including eight on the PGA Tour.
The only other PGA Tour-affiliated event held in South Korea was the 2015 Presidents Cup at Jack Nicklaus Golf Club in Incheon, South Korea, which was an unqualified success beyond the United States’ exciting 15 1/2 to 14 1/2 victory.
That event certainly helped the CJ Cup at Nine Bridges line up a 78-man field that includes Justin Thomas, Jason Day of Australia, Patrick Reed, Paul Casey of England, Adam Scott of Australia, Daniel Berger, Keegan Bradley, Marc Leishman of Australia, Rafa Cabrera Bello of Spain, Jason Dufner, Brendan Steele, Ernie Els of South Africa, Emiliano Grillo of Argentina, Adam Hadwin of Canada, Anirban Lahiri of India, Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland, Xander Schauffele and Jhonattan Vegas of Venezuela.
“Any time you get the opportunity to go to a place where you’ve never been before, playing against a tremendous field, it’s a great opportunity,” said Thomas, the PGA and FedExCup champion who is the reigning PGA Tour Player of the Year.
“To go to South Korea for the first time and to play in a place at Jeju Island, which I’ve heard is an unbelievable place, it’ll be a great experience. It’s one of the coolest part of being a golfer, as you’ll never go to new places if you didn’t play golf.”
Added Day: “It will be fun to have the opportunity to visit Jeju Island and compete in the CJ Cup @ Nine Bridges. I have always enjoyed traveling around the world to play in front of different golf fans and enjoying what the local culture has to offer, which is one of the perks of being a professional golfer.
“I have heard Jeju Island is a breathtaking tourist destination and I intend to make time to enjoy what the place has to offer. Ultimately, my goal will be head over to South Korea and try to win the CJ Cup @ Nine Bridges.”
In addition to Choi, there are several other South Koreans in the field, including Si Woo Kim, Sangmoon Bae, Byeong Hun An, Sung Kang, Whee Kim and K.T. Kim, plus several up-and-coming prospects.
Also playing are Americans Kevin Na and James Hahn, plus Danny Lee of New Zealand, who all were born in South Korea.
“It will be a special week for all Korean players, including myself, to participate in the first ever PGA Tour tournament in South Korea,” said Si Woo Kim, who earlier this year became the youngest winner of the Players Championship at 21. “I am sure the presence of the PGA Tour stars in Jeju Island will go a long way to promote professional golf in our country and Asia, and it is nice to be a part of this new tournament.
–Courtesy of The Sports Xchange, TSX Golf Editor Tom LaMarre