An Asian Masters champion?

2011-04-05 16:51
KJ Choi (File)

Augusta - South Korean K.J. Choi is confident that an Asian player will soon claim a Masters title and he is hoping to be the one to make that green jacket breakthrough.

Choi is ready to make another run at becoming the first Asian to win the Masters this week after sharing fourth place last year at Augusta National.

South Korea's Yang Yong-Eun became the first Asian man to win a major crown at the 2009 PGA Championship's and shared eighth at last year's Masters, joining Choi, whose top Masters finish was third in 2004, as a solid contender.

"Just look at what Asian players have done recently," Choi said. "As they have an opportunity to play more in the Majors, they learn and realise what they need to do. Their names pop up on the leaderboards at any given day.

"They just need to keep their composure for four days. It's only a matter of time."

Choi and playing partner Tiger Woods each closed with three-under 69s in the final round last year to share fourth position, with the Korean keeping his composure most of the week playing alongside Woods before huge crowds in his first event after a five-month hiatus.

"I just need to be 100 percent focused to the very last shot and the last hole on Sunday and stay patient," Choi said.

"There's no room for small mistakes and I'm not just referring to the shots you hit on the golf course. The Masters is more than that. I failed to do that last year during the final round."

Choi, a seven-time US PGA winner, sees the Masters as a prize unlike any other in golf.

"One can only tell how special it is just by being there," Choi said. "The history behind it, the winners and how they won, the course, the atmosphere, the recognition ... it sets the tournament apart from any other tournament."

Coming off a share for sixth at the Arnold Palmer Invitational two weeks ago, Choi said the swing changes he is working on with coach Steve Bann are bringing rewards.

"Out on the driving range, I'm hitting it perfect," Choi said. "I need to take that on to the golf course during my rounds and piece it all together from driving to the irons; short game and to the putting. I'm going through a swing change and I just need to trust it 100 percent.

"I will keep to my routine and trust my swing and stroke."

Bann has tightened Choi's backswing and worked on his sightline setups, according to Choi's manager Michael Yim.

"Steve has been working on a parallel setup with K.J.'s eyes, shoulders, hips and knees parallel to the target line," Yim said. "He did have his eyes aligned left previously which suited the hold fade.

"His backswing is now more compact with less lift at the top and his key thought is to fully release his right side through the hit with no hang on. This has increased his power with all clubs and he can now draw and fade by adjusting his setup and club face position and using the same swing.

"Steve says he sees more and more confident golf swings every day on the course and on the range. It is great."

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