June 17th, 2011
01:40 PM ET
By Kim Segal, CNN
Golf is how K.J. Choi makes his money. Donations are how he likes to spend a lot of it.
"I believe in sharing," says Choi, a pro golfer from South Korea who gave away over $300,000 that he earned on this year's PGA Tour. "A lot of people make money but we all live in a society where we need to share."
He has pledged $200,000 of the $1.71 million that he won at last month's Players Championship in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida to victims of the deadly tornadoes that recently struck the American South.
"When I see people suffering, that hurts me a lot, too," Choi, who is playing in the U.S. Open this week, said in a telephone interview.
Sports Illustrated senior writer Damon Hack said that news of Choi's tornado donation didn't surprise him.
"That's just kind of the person that he's been," Hack said. "He seems to kind of have that good world view to know that there are a lot of things going on bigger than the sport."
Considered Asia's most successful golfer, Choi has also started his own charity to support underprivileged children, the K.J. Choi Foundation.
The 8-time PGA Tour champion says his donation to the tornado victims was a kind of thank you to the country that gave him the opportunity to succeed.
Choi lives in Texas but frequently visits his homeland.
As a member of the U.S.-based PGA tour, he has played against the best golfers in the world, competing for some of the sport's largest first-place prizes.
He's known around the clubhouse for showing his appreciation. "He thanks everybody. He thanks the golf course superintendent, the tournament host but he also thanks God," says Hack. "He's not afraid to talk about his beliefs."
Choi has a reputation for being a devout Christian. He and his family are members of the Dallas Korean United Methodist Church in Texas.
"The Lord has been good to me and he has provided a lot for me so this is my way to return of all the things that he has given to me," he says.
"Golf is not an easy game. It takes a lot of hard work and training and there are times when it is hard on me, too," he says. "But when I seem to be facing a brick wall that's when I turn to the Lord because I know he's watching over me."
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