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Published: Wednesday October 3, 2012 MYT 5:59:00 PM

S. Korean star Choi looks forward to homecoming

SEOUL: South Korea's K.J. Choi says hosting his own tournament will allow him to reunite old friends and give back to the community, ahead of the CJ Invitational which starts on Thursday.

Choi, who has been based in the United States since 1999, described his homecoming as "a very meaningful event".

"I've all of my close friends coming to play in my tournament and also participate in this Build a Nest program which is going to help many kids fulfil their dreams," said Choi.

The Build a Nest campaign is part of a charity initiative under the KJ Choi Foundation where players volunteer to be ambassadors and donate 100,000 won ($90) for every birdie they record in the tournament.

Choi said: "This tournament extends beyond the boundaries of just playing a tournament. It's more of a community thing and giving back to society and my fans.

"When I play in the US, all the people from Korea would cheer me on TV even though it's very late in the night there. Without my fans' support, I wouldn't be able to be where I'm today," said Choi.

The CJ Invitational, jointly sanctioned by the Asian Tour and Korean Golf Tour, is in its second year and has a total prize fund of US$750,000.

Choi, a five-time winner of the Asian Tour, who also holds eight wins on the PGA Tour, joined the likes of Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Tiger Woods as players with their own tournaments.

Although he won the inaugural event last year, the Korean superstar does not believe his title defence will be easy.

"The Asian Tour has come a long way and the field is getting stronger and stronger each year. It's not going to be easy but I'll try my best as always to defend my title this week," said Choi.

Other Asian Tour stars to look out for include India's Gaganjeet Bhullar, Singapore's Mardan Mamat and Thailand's Thaworn Wiratchant who holds the record of having 14 Asian Tour wins.- AFP

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