Eagle gives Korean a flying start

HE WAS hardly a household name on Australian soil, but J.W. Choi became a talking point yesterday when he claimed a share of the lead in the Australian PGA Championship.

The 31-year-old South Korean birdied six holes and bogeyed two, but it was his lengthy approach shot to the elevated green on the tricky par-four 16th at Coolum that propelled him to the top of the leaderboard.

"I chipped in from 98 yards (90 metres) and eagled the hole. I was very lucky," he said.

Although he had enjoyed playing in relative obscurity in the opening round, Choi was all too aware there would be plenty of pundits watching him today.

"I have to make sure I don't get too excited in the coming days if I want to keep playing well," he said.

Choi's career highlights include a top-20 finish in the Indonesian Open and third place on the Korean Tour.

At the recent Australian Open, he finished a respectable 29th.

He also played at Coolum last year, claiming 47th place.

Choi recognises the challenge he faces this time around.

"This is a very big tournament. There are many good players in the field so it is very competitive out there," he said.

Third-placed Aaron Townsend believes he is close to a breakthrough on the big stage.

"I feel like I have been playing good enough the last couple of years, definitely, and I feel like it's very close," he said.

He knows the Coolum layout well after finishing sixth there last year.


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