SILVIS – With one sponsor exemption, John Deere Classic officials added an international flavor to this year's PGA Tour event and gave golf fans a chance to get an up-close look at one of the most unique swings in the pro game.
JDC Tournament Director Clair Peterson announced that Ho Sung Choi, whose unorthodox “fisherman’s swing” has made him an internet sensation, has accepted a sponsor exemption to play in the July 8-14 event at TPC Deere Run.
This will be the 45-year-old self-taught South Korea native's second event in America.
“I was aware of him before the AT&T Pebble Beach event,” said Peterson, referencing Choi's only other U.S. appearance. “When the AT&T Pebble Beach folks invited him, we kind of saw the excitement that delivered. I think they had over a million hits on social media. … He was such an interesting story.”
As Peterson added, “he is not just an oddity, he is an accomplished player.”
Choi won the 2018 Casio World Open on the Japan Golf Tour, one of four international victories for the late-bloomer. He played that AT&T Pebble Beach event with his amateur partner in the same foursome as Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who reportedly requested to play with Choi after seeing his unique swing. He missed the cut in his first trip to the U.S.
“Seeing what happened there validated in our mind the idea that it would be exciting to have him here,” said Peterson.
Choi, who is now ranked No. 226 in the Official World Golf Ranking, is also a perfect fit for the business side of the golf tournament. With Deere & Co. inviting a number of international guests for the tournament, he will complement that segment of the guest list.
Peterson said that Choi will play in both the Monday and Wednesday pro-am events. Peterson said that Choi is playing in Japan the week before and flying into Chicago on the Sunday ahead of the JDC.
“The John Deere folks always have guests from all over the world, many times from Asia,” said Peterson. “Having a Korean player here for their overseas guests to interact with and play in the Monday and Wednesday pro-am just kind of sealed the deal.”
The term “fisherman’s swing” originated with a regular Japan Golf Tour photographer who thought Choi’s swing looked like a fisherman throwing his hook to get a catch, according to an article by Mike McAllister on pgatour.com.
Choi first developed his current swing in 2013 while trying to hit a shot out of the deep rough. When he found that his walk-through helicopter action helped add 13 yards to his tee shots, it soon became his “standard” swing. His average drives now travel approximately 285 yards.
Peterson has four unrestricted sponsor exemptions to offer for the tournament, usually using those on younger up-and-coming players. In the past, some of those have been offered to Jordan Spieth, Jason Day and Jon Rahm among others who kick-started their careers here. He also has four other restricted exemptions that are earmarked for either past PGA Tour winners who are without status or those from the Web.com Tour who otherwise wouldn't be able to get in the field.