Korean golf star K.J. Choi announced today that he will host his own tournament, The K.J. Choi Invitational from October 20-23, 2011 at the world renowned Sky72 Golf Club in Incheon, South Korea.
Fresh from victory at The Players Championship 2011 – where he became the first Asian to win what is known as golf’s fifth major, Choi is now part of a very exclusive fraternity in the world of golf that includes such elite names as Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Tiger Woods as the proud host of his very own golf tournament.
Choi, The K.J. Choi Foundation, the Asian Tour, the Korean Tour (KGT) and Asian Tour Media jointly announced the inaugural K.J. Choi Invitational golf tournament and prize money for the event will be at US$750,000, instantly making the event one of the most prestigious on both the Asian Tour and the Korean Tour.
However, the true purpose for the event is not for commercial gain or to put up one of the highest prize purses, but to gather attention to the K.J. Choi Foundation, which supports under-privileged children throughout the world.
Throughout his career, Choi has been very generous in providing support to many different causes and recently, he donated US$200,000 of his prize earnings from his victory at The Players Championship through his Foundation to help victims of the tornados that ravaged the southeastern United States. He is also very well known to donate most, if not all, of his prize earnings from tournaments he plays in Korea to various charitable and relief efforts within Korea. He started the K.J. Choi Foundation four years ago in order to build an organization where he could further drive his charitable efforts.
Choi said, “This is a very exciting day for me and I would like to thank the Asian Tour, the Korean Tour (KGT), Asian Tour Media and Sky72 Golf Club for partnering with me in this project. The K.J. Choi Foundation is very important to me and this tournament will be a great way to raise funds and the profile of many of the causes we support.”
The other major partner in this monumental tournament alongside the K.J. Choi Foundation will be Asian Tour Media. Asian Tour Media is the television production and global distribution arm for the Asian Tour and was formed earlier this year through a joint venture between the Asian Tour and IMG, who have also represented Choi for more than 10 years. When the Asian Tour Media learned of Choi’s interest in hosting his own charitable golf tournament in Korea under the Asian Tour and Korean Tour banners, it did not take long for Asian Tour Media to step-up and make sure all the necessary resources and elements were in place to make this event a success.
Asian Tour Executive Chairman, Kyi Hla Han, said, "As one of our most distinguished Asian Tour honorary members, Choi has become truly successful on the international scene and we are thrilled that he is leading this terrific initiative to create a new tournament on the Asian Tour and Korean Golf Tour as a way giving back to the game of golf.
We are also delighted to be working closely with the Korean Golf Tour to develop and promote the game in Korea and Asia where our focus will remain firmly on creating world class tournament to ensure that great players in the mould of K.J. Choi would be discovered. I am convinced that the K.J. Choi Invitational will enjoy a successful launch and grow into a major international tournament that will leave a lasting legacy."
Robbie Henchman, Chairman of Asian Tour Media, said, “We are incredibly proud to be partnering with K.J. Choi and the K.J. Choi Foundation to be part of this historic event. We are also very thankful to the Asian Tour and the Korean Tour for their commitment to make this event possible. K.J. is a wonderful ambassador for Asian golf and his commitment to raising funds for the K.J. Choi Foundation is very inspiring. We are delighted that through Asian Tour Media’s ever increasing global distribution networks this tournament will be seen in over 130 countries and 800 million homes. The best of Korean and Asian golf will take centre stage at the KJ Choi Invitational and even more importantly, many lives will be touched through this golf tournament and through the KJ Choi Foundation.”
The K.J. Choi Invitational can be seen as somewhat of a homecoming for Choi. Prior to becoming a star on the PGA Tour, Choi’s roots can be traced back to the Korean circuit and the Asian Tour, so it was a natural decision for Choi to host his own golf tournament in his home country of Korea and have it co-sanctioned by the two Tours where it all began. The field size will be split almost evenly between the two Tours and Choi will also have some invitations himself, which he plans to use to provide opportunities to some of the new up and comers in Korean and Asian golf to instill hope and confidence.
Seoung Ghee Wook, President and CEO of the Korea Professional Golf Tour, said, “We are very proud of working together with K.J. Choi and the Asian Tour to put together such an important golf tournament. K.J. Choi has done so much for the game of golf in Korea, and we are honored that he would take such steps to further develop golf in Korea and Asia. We look forward to working with the Asian Tour in organizing such a great event for both our Tours. We will give our best effort in making the K.J. Choi Invitational an international success.”
Sky72 Golf Club, which also operate their own ‘Sky Angels’ charity program and contributes annually to the K.J. Choi Foundation through various fundraisers, has agreed to now contribute its golf course to the K.J. Choi Invitational. Sky72 is recognized throughout Asia and the world for hosting some of the top golf tournaments, including the only official US LPGA golf tournament in Korea.
With every step Choi takes, he seems to write a new chapter in golf in Korea and in Asia. Never before has a Korean golfer made such an impactful statement by putting his own name, time, resources and effort into creating his own signature golf tournament for a great cause.