Playing in tournaments with big-name hosts apparently brings out the best in K.J. Choi.
Five weeks after winning the Jack Nicklaus-hosted Memorial Tournament, Choi received yet another trophy from a golfing great as Tiger Woods presented him with the trophy after a three-shot victory in the inaugural AT&T National. The 37-year-old South Korean shot a 2-under-par 68 in the final round Sunday at Congressional Country Club to finish with a 9-under 271.
"I'm just shocked at myself being able to win Jack and Tiger's tournaments," Choi said in his post-round press conference. "I can't really express in words what this means to me.
"This tournament is just too big for me to really absorb right now, but it's a very big win for me and definitely the biggest win of my career."
Sunday's top finish marked Choi's second PGA Tour victory of the season and the sixth of his career. He also picked up the first-place check of $1.08 million — equal to the largest of his career at the Memorial — and vaulted to No. 4 in the FedExCup point standings with 13,589 points.
Choi became the fifth multiple winner on Tour in 2007, joining Woods, Phil Mickelson, Vijay Singh and Zach Johnson. Choi, who has posted five top-10 finishes on the season, has the most PGA Tour wins ever by an Asian-born player.
Choi, who essentially learned the game of golf from reading an instructional book authored by Nicklaus, said he'd have a difficult time deciding which tournament title meant more to him.
"They are both valuable," Choi said. "One thing I can say (for) Tiger, this week's trophy is a lot heavier than Jack's trophy — if that means anything."
Choi finished three shots ahead of Steve Stricker on Congressional's par-70, 7,204-yard layout. Pat Perez, Jim Furyk and Stuart Appleby tied for third at 3-under 277, while Woods shot a final-round 70 to tie for sixth place at 2-under 278 with Robert Allenby.
"I hit the ball pretty good, actually," Woods told reporters. "(I) didn't putt well. (Saturday), I hit good putts and they didn't go in, and today, I hit bad putts."
Woods, who helped organize the AT&T National that brought a PGA Tour stop back to the Washington D.C. area, said he had a great time at his tournament, which benefits the Tiger Woods Foundation. Despite not playing his best golf, Woods was cheered wildly by most in a crowd of more than 37,000.
"I think this tournament has been embraced by the people here in the D.C. area, and I think that's actually what you want to have happen." said Woods, whose tournament distributed 30,000 free tournament passes to members of the military. "We've been very lucky and very fortunate to have had happen."
While the overall event appeared to be a success, Woods admitted that he didn't exactly enjoy the idea of presenting the trophy to someone else.
"I don't like it," said Woods, who has the experience of giving away the trophy in the Target event. "I've never liked it."
Hunter Mahan shot the low round of the day with a 65 to help him tie for eighth at 1-under 279. He was joined by Hunter Mahan, Rocco Mediate, Brandt Snedeker and Mike Weir.
Stricker recorded his second runner-up finish of the 2007 season, having finished solo second to Woods at the Wachovia Championship. He now ranks tied for seventh on Tour with five top-10 finishes.
July 9, 2007
Davis Love III, who played the final 57 holes of the Children's Miracle Network Classic without a bogey, finished at 25-under 263 in the season-ending event played at the Walt Disney World Golf Resort in Florida. It has been a long road back for Love, who severely sprained his ankle late last year. After tearing ligaments, he needed surgery, and he's spent much of this year rehabilitating the injury.
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