|Choi Ho-sung of South Korea plays his shot from the 13th tee during the second round of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am at Spyglass Hill Golf Course in Pebble Beach, California, Friday. AFP-Yonhap|
By Kim Jeong-kyoo
Zany swinger Choi Ho-sung had to abandon Pebble Beach and his staunch fans after having another disappointingly poor round Saturday.
However, Choi captivated loyal golf-addict fans with his unique, impressive on-course antics. He crawled on the green after he missed a birdie putt. It was a strange sight golf fanatics rarely come across on the PGA Tour.
The galleries could see his dramatic demeanor when Choi was playing the fourth hole during the third round.
Choi created a chance for a birdie from seven to eight meters. He rolled the ball with a smooth stroke on a perfect line. However, the ball stopped right on the edge of the hole.
After stroking the ball, Choi wildly flailed his left arm high, putting his putter on his left shoulder. He steadily fixed his eye on his rolling ball. He made a gesture showing he desperately wanted the ball to drop into the hole. Then, as the ball approached the hole, Choi began to kneel down before he finally started crawling.
Despite his fame for unusual on-course antics, it was exceptionally unusual behavior that will linger forever in the memories of the galleries.
Choi failed to make the cut with rounds of 72, 75 and 77 for an aggregate score of a 9-over 224. The cut line was a two-under 213.
Though he was not on the first tee at Pebble Beach Sunday, still, Choi helped to make the event a resounding success.
And chances are high that he will soon receive another sponsor exemption for PGA Tour events.
The slightly sad part of his PGA Tour debut was he had failed to play decently. But as far as the fans at the Pebble Pro-Am are concerned, Choi was, for sure, a must-see golf celebrity.
Despite his unsatisfactory play, the TV camera caught Choi Saturday.
On the opening day, Choi had difficulty staying cool. He ended the first day, tied in 111th place with 15 others including Cameron Champ and David Duval. He reeled in three birdies on the back nine against four bogeys on the 6,867-yard par-71 Monterey Peninsula Country Club Shore Course.
There was warm applause from the gallery after Choi hit his opening tee shot with his usual freakish follow-through.
During the round, the galleries chuckled and cheered with his every follow-through.
Also, the galleries yelled, "We love you, Ho-sung." And Choi would invariably turn around and wave at them.
Choi made a decent start with a par on the opening hole. But he was nowhere near the top of the leader board on the first day.
Still, he proved he is a pro golfer rather than a mere spectacle the gallery should not miss.
Overall, he struggled severely on the fast, sloping greens. Also, he lost a ball on the par-5 10th hole, having a bogey thrust on him.
"I tried not to be nervous, but I was nervous over the first few holes," said Choi. "I definitely felt the love from my fans and I felt like that pushed me more to focus on the back nine," he added.
"He's a great addition to this tournament and to the game," said Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers paired with Choi. "It's more eyes watching, more excitement, more people talking about what he's doing," added Rodgers, who had tweeted his interest in playing with Choi last month.
"I had a hard time reading the greens," Choi said. "I had a good feeling about today, but the greens were obviously different from the course yesterday," he added. Choi had 31 putts.
Choi fell back with a 3-over par at Spyglass Hill and tied for 128th. It was a disappointing Friday for Choi, notwithstanding his entertaining the fans. He needed a low round Saturday to make the cut in his first PGA Tour start.
However, Choi shot a five-over 77, which forced him to make an early exit. In the three rounds, he reeled in eight birdies, making 31 pars against 13 bogeys and two double bogeys.