KJ delights in Choi-ce pairing

2010-04-06 21:57
KJ Choi (AFP)

Augusta - Some players would be worried about a pairing with Tiger Woods on his return to golf this week at the Masters but KJ Choi said he welcomed the chance after being drawn to play with the world number one.

VIDEO: Tiger Woods press conference

The South Korean told a small group of reporters behind the 18th green after a practice round on Tuesday that an official told him at the 15th hole that he would be grouped with Woods.

Choi, the leading Asian player of the last decade with seven U.S. PGA Tour wins, said he had a premonition he would get to play with Woods.

"I sort of had a feeling when I left Dallas to come here," former weightlifter Choi said. "I said to myself, 'It would be cool if I was paired with Tiger.' And it happened.

"It's a good surprise."

Choi and American Matt Kuchar will tee off with Woods at 13:42 (17:42 GMT) at Augusta National in the year's first major and the first appearance by Woods in nearly five months since revelations of a string of marital infidelities.

The crush of spectators that routinely follow Woods can be a distraction for playing partners in ordinary circumstances but the curiosity about how well he will do and the crowd's reaction to him promises to create even more of a spectacle.

"I love to play with him. I've played with Tiger a few times. I'm not going to be bothered by the number of galleries there," he said through his interpreter Michael Yim.

"I actually like playing with big crowds, so I think I'm going to be playing a little bit more aggressive and I'm looking forward to it.

"For me, I'm used to playing with Tiger. When you play with Tiger there's a certain aura or atmosphere that's very different as opposed to when you play with other players.

"I know what that feels like so I'm used to it and don't think it will bother me at all," said Choi.

Choi said he did not think fans would disrupt the golf by heckling Woods about his personal life.

"To take what has happened outside the golf course and to bring it inside the golf course, I don't think that's right.

"I believe they are educated enough to respect the game of golf. Whatever happened with Tiger in the past is in the past. He's trying to move forward. I think it will be okay.

"I'm happy he's back," he added with a hearty laugh. "He's only going to help the game of golf."

Tee times and pairings for the first and second rounds of the 2010 Masters, which starts on Thursday at Augusta National Golf Club:

All times SA

13:40: Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus - honorary starters
13:50: Nathan Green (AUS), Heath Slocum (USA), Louis Oosthuizen (RSA)
14:01: Craig Stadler (USA), John Merrick (USA), Jerry Kelly (USA)
14:12: Ian Woosnam (WAL), Brian Gay (USA), Marc Leishman (AUS)
14:23: Bernhard Langer (GER), Scott Verplank (USA), Brad Benjamin (USA -a)
14:34: John Senden (AUS), David Toms (USA), Graeme McDowell (NIR)
14:45: Mark O'Meara (USA), Rory Sabbatini (RSA), Nathan Smith (USA -a)
14:56: Martin Kaymer (GER), Geoff Ogilvy (AUS), Luke Donald (ENG)
15:07: Tom Watson (USA), Tim Clark (RSA), Steve Marino (USA)
15:18: Bill Haas (USA), Todd Hamilton (USA), Anders Hansen (DEN)
15:29: Dustin Johnson (USA), Oliver Wilson (ENG), Alvaro Quiros (ESP
15:40: Mike Weir (CAN), Lee Westwood (ENG), Matteo Manassero (ITA -a)
15:51: Open
16:02: Chad Campbell (USA), Francesco Molinari (ITA), Paul Casey (ENG)
16:13: Ernie Els (RSA), Anthony Kim (USA), Ryo Ishikawa (JPN)
16:24: Angel Cabrera (ARG), Jim Furyk (USA), An Byeong-Hun (KOR -a)
16:35: Phil Mickelson (USA), Robert Allenby (AUS), Yang Yong-Eun (KOR)
16:46: Retief Goosen (RSA), Hunter Mahan (USA), Robert Karlsson (SWE)
16:57: Ben Crane (USA), Simon Dyson (ENG), Michael Campbell (NZL)
17:08: Larry Mize (USA), Ryan Palmer (USA), Chris Wood (ENG)
17:19: Sandy Lyle (SCO), Justin Leonard (USA), Kevin Na (USA)
17:30: Ben Crenshaw (USA), Steve Flesch (USA), Ben Martin (USA -a)
17:41: Ryan Moore (USA), Ross Fisher (ENG), Nick Watney (USA),
17:52: Trevor Immelman (RSA), Soren Hansen (DEN), John Rollins (USA)
18:03: Open
18:14: Vijay Singh (FIJ), Jason Duffner (USA), Sean O'Hair (USA)
18:25: Thongchai Jaidee (THA), Ben Curtis (USA), Soren Kjeldsen (DEN)
18:36: Camilo Villegas (COL), Kenny Perry (USA), Rory McIlroy (NIR)
18:47: Zach Johnson (USA), Henrik Stenson (SWE), Han Chang-won (KOR)
18:58: Fred Couples (USA), Sergio Garcia (ESP), Shingo Katayama (JPN)
19:09: Miguel Angel Jimenez (ESP), Edoardo Molinari (ITA), Lucas Glover (USA)
19:20: Charl Schwartzel (RSA), Stewart Cink (USA), Padraig Harrington (IRL)
19:31: Yuta Ikeda (JPN), Ian Poulter (ENG), Steve Stricker (USA)
19:42: Tiger Woods (USA), Matt Kuchnar (USA), K.J. Choi (KOR)
19:53: Adam Scott (AUS), David Duval (USA), Ricky Barnes (USA)

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