Our Sporting Life SA

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Young gun ready to fire again


South Korea's Hye-Jin Choi has made her intentions clear and concise for the 2018 Women's Australian Open at Kooyonga Golf Club from February 15-18.

The talented 18-year-old who finished in a tie-for-seventh (T7) overall and won the Low Amateur trophy after last year's event at Royal Adelaide has set a goal of finishing in the top six.

"My goal is to make a better finish than last year," Choi told Our Sporting Life SA.

"I was equal seventh last year, so I want to finish within seventh place in the 2018 Australian Open.

Choi, who turned professional in August 2017, had an impressive Australian visit last year.

In three other events she won the Australian Amateur Championship, finished second in the NSW Amateur and was fifth at the VIC Open.

"When I was an amateur player, I trained in Australia a few times so I am familiar with the weather and conditions in Australia," she explained.

"Maybe that’s the reason that I've got a lot of good results.

It's not just Australia where Choi has showcased her amazing form, as during July last year she finished second in the US Open only two shots behind winner Sung Hyun Park.

"It was absolutely the most exciting experience as a golf player for me," Choi explained.

"I would like to have not made a mistake in the final round.

“However, placing second in a LPGA major tournament was a meaning result for me.”

As Choi was still an Amateur she was ineligible to collect the prizemoney of US$540,000 and even if she decided then to turn professional she wouldn't have received the cheque as she had already teed off in the event three days earlier.

"Since I entered the tournament (US Open), I hadn’t expected the prizemoney," Choi said.

"I felt a little bit sad, but I was not discouraged.”

Since turning professional a day after celebrating her 18th birthday in August Choi has risen to world number 11 and says she is continuing to learn from the experienced players on Tour.

"I think I was really lucky to turn professional at a young age," she said.

"It is a chance to learn a lot from the senior players and playing with a lot of professional players.

“I am growing up more and more.

The talented Choi recorded her first victory as a pro in her last 2017 event after the HYOSUNG Championship on December 10, in the Korean Ladies Professional Golf Association (KLPGA) tour and received a winners cheque of just over US$130,000.

With most players enjoying the chance to put their clubs down over the off-season Choi continued to work on her game and is showing dedication and maturity beyond her years.

"I concentrated on physical training and never put the clubs down during the off season," Choi explained.

"After the physical training in Korea, I moved to the USA to train on my short game for a month.

"I also spent some time watching a concert, traveling and reading books.

Since Choi started playing golf at 10 years of age her sports enthusiast father Kil-Ho has been a major influence on her and continues to support her during every tournament.

"I started playing golf being influenced by my father," Choi concluded.

"While I was growing up as a golf player, my father supported me in every way so I could concentrate only on golf.

"Even now, he always stays with me when I play a tournament and gives me feedback on my play.

“He is the most rigorous coach for me."

With her continued desire to produce strong performances Choi is well placed to break into the Top 10 World Rankings and possibly even higher during 2018, she will be a player to watch at the Australian Open.

For tickets to the 2018 Women's Australian Open please click here- http://www.golf.org.au/wao-ticketing

Images- Andrew Frackowski

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