KJ Choi becomes oldest champion on Korean PGA Tour with dramatic SK Telecom Open win

SEOUL: In an astonishing display of resilience and skill, former world number five KJ Choi became the oldest golfer to win a tournament on the Korean PGA Tour (KPGA) at the weekend. Choi’s victory at the SK Telecom Open on his 54th birthday ended a 12-year drought on his home tour. The triumph, decided on the second playoff hole, is a testament to Choi’s enduring prowess and determination.

Choi, who has eight PGA Tour titles to his name from 2002 to 2011, returned to Texas on Monday to resume his life on the U.S. senior tour. He began the final day at Pinx Golf Club with a commanding five-shot lead, but a bogey on the last hole meant he had to face Park Sang-hyun in a playoff.

The climax was dramatic. On the first playoff hole, Choi’s second shot seemed destined for the greenside water, but the gallery’s reaction hinted otherwise. “I thought my second shot had gone into the water, but seeing the gallery’s reaction made me feel like the ball might still be alive,” Choi recounted. The ball had indeed landed on a small island. Choi’s ensuing “island shot” with a wedge saved par, a moment he described as unforgettable.

On the second playoff hole, Choi clinched the title by matching par as Park bogeyed, securing Choi’s fourth SK Telecom Open win and his 17th KPGA title. When asked for advice for middle-aged golfers, Choi emphasized the importance of lifestyle changes, which have been pivotal in maintaining his competitive edge.

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