FLORIDA’S LAKEWOOD RANCH — Last year’s LECOM Suncoast Classic served as a crucial stepping stone in Albin Choi’s return to professional golf.
Last year, the 29-year-old from Toronto shot a 66 in the Monday qualifier to gain a spot in the 144-player tournament. He replied by shooting a 9-under 62 in the opening round, tying the tournament’s 18-hole record, before finishing in a tie for 14th place.
Choi, who is returning to Lakewood National Golf Club this week for another shot at the title, said, “It was a terrific week for me.” “It just has a different meaning for me now.”
Following a turbulent decade in his life, Choi is back on solid ground this time.
Choi was a three-time All-American and nine-time NCAA champion at North Carolina State before turning pro in 2013. In the spring of 2013, he was named the Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year.
Ericka, his mother, committed suicide in 2011 when he was still in college.
“As far as the voyage is concerned, it’s not anything I or anyone else anticipated,” Choi added.
Choi persevered in his golf career, competing in 110 Korn Ferry tournaments and finishing in the top ten six times before his career came to an end after the 2019 season. He lost his Korn Ferry playing status and found himself in significant financial trouble.
Choi began his comeback by working as a caddie at Palm Beach Gardens’ opulent Old Palm Golf Club. He was caddying up to 36 holes every day while continuing to improve his game.
Choi then got a break in 2020 when Sungjae Im, a PGA Tour player, requested him to carry his bag at the Honda Classic. Choi received 10% of I$1.26 m’s million payout, as well as the base caddie wage and a generous tip, when Im won his first PGA title.
During their time on the Korn Ferry Tour in 2018, the two became friends. Choi, who is bilingual in English and Korean, also worked as Iinterpreter m’s and caddie for a five-month period.
His stint as Icaddy m’s helped him to reclaim his financial footing while also allowing him to resume his own playing career. It also gave him a unique perspective on the game at its pinnacle.
Choi remarked, “From a learning standpoint, it was one of the best experiences I could have had.” “I had a front-row seat to how the golfers prepare and conduct themselves both on and off the golf field.” I’m always striving to learn new things. That was something I had the opportunity to do.
“I knew a lot of the guys out there,” says the narrator. I was impressed by how hard they toiled. It inspired me to put forth a little more effort. It was wonderful for me to watch the level of play out there.”
For the time being, Choi is content to be back on the course, playing the game he loves.
“With all that has happened in the previous several years, I’m simply happy to be here,” he remarked. “I can’t ask for much more than to be given another chance to play and compete.”
“I enjoy playing.” It’s something I’ve done all my life. I’m just going to keep playing as long as my body permits me to.”
LECOM Suncoast Classic
WHAT: Regular stop on the Korn Ferry Tour, the path to the PGA Tour.
WHO: 144 golfers competing for 72 holes of stroke play.
WHERE: Lakewood National Golf Club (Commander course, par-71, 7,112 yards).
PURSE: $750,000 (top prize is $135,000).
TICKETS: $20 at the gate for adults, children under-17, active duty military, veterans and first responders are admitted free of charge with a valid ID.