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Freshman golfer Woojay Choi shows potential

BY MAGGIE CUNNINGHAM | APRIL 07, 2011 7:20 AM

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Like many freshman athletes, Woojay Choi has some improving to do, but Kelly Crawford believes the 19-year-old will become one of the team’s key players.

“[Choi’s] game is raw, so she has some work to do,” the Iowa women’s golf head coach said. “But she has shown she has lot of talent.”

A native of Canada, she was a little slow getting into golf. Her father was the first to get her involved.

“My dad was just a weekend golfer, so he wasn’t really that good, but I used to follow him to the range and stuff, and then I got serious,” she said.

It wasn’t until she moved to The Woodlands, Texas, that she delved into the game and began playing competitively.

“The weather was nicer [in Texas] so I was able to play a lot more,” she said. “I started playing small junior tournaments, and I got lessons, too.”

While in high school, Choi played in the Texas Junior Golf Tour during the summers. In 2009, she finished first at both the Houston Golf Association’s High Performance Series and the MJT Manitoba Series Event. She was also a two-time runner-up in the Manitoba Junior Girls’ Championship in 2008 and 2009.

She quickly proved herself as a strong competitor in high school, but her golf experience and success couldn’t help her with the transition to college.

“The transition is difficult for everyone,” Crawford said. “And first semester I think she was overwhelmed.”

Choi admits she is much more comfortable with the college life in the spring, and her better understanding of how to be a successful student-athlete has noticeably improved her game.

At the Anteater Invitational in Dove Canyon, Calif., Choi, competing as an individual, finished in a tie for 37th-place. Carding a score of 239, she finished ahead of two of her teammates who made up the Iowa’s scorecard.

“I have definitely gotten more confident second semester,” Choi said. “Just getting used to college is really hard. It was pretty stressful, but I think I am getting used to it now and playing a lot better.”

Before she came to Iowa, she had developed small habits with her swing and she spent much of the spring season fixing those technical problems.

Crawford now describes Choi’s “ball striking” as one of her strengths.

“From the recruiting process to when she got here she had a significant swing difference,” Crawford said. “Now she is hitting the ball as solidly as anyone else on the team.”

Crawford said one of Choi’s best assets is that she is “coachable.” Gaining more experience in her short game and course management are two areas Crawford said Choi could use some attention.

“I am improving slowly,” Choi said. “But still I have some things to work on. I am really grateful that [Crawford] and [assistant coach John Owens] are really patient with me. I have to just keep working on my game, and it will keep getting better and better.”


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