K.J. Choi is a golf god who gives back
K.J. Choi at the U.S. Open on Thursday in Bethesda, Maryland.
June 17th, 2011
01:40 PM ET

K.J. Choi is a golf god who gives back

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."

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Leaders • Sports

soundoff (142 Responses)
  1. Anfeidl

    It's sad to see that anybody is trying to find something negative about what Choi is doing. Choi is at least making an effort to make this world a better place. He obviously doesn't care rather it's for Americans, or Koreans. He knows we all live on one planet, borders shouldn't matter.

    June 18, 2011 at 11:02 am |
    • gozer

      Promulgating and funding religion is definitively not making the world a better place. It's doing the opposite of what should be done. Stop religion now.

      June 19, 2011 at 11:27 am |
  2. Chris

    Hes so used to communism that he just gives things away.....hmmm

    June 18, 2011 at 10:58 am |
    • Ryan in Michigan

      @Chris – Except that he's from South Korea, which is a capitalist democracy, so your comment is poorly informed and shows you either didn't read the whole article or are ignorant of other countries.

      June 18, 2011 at 11:12 am |
    • Sydney

      You're an idiot. You might want to educate yourself instead of showing your racist, jealous self.

      June 18, 2011 at 11:17 am |
    • J

      He is from South Korea...They are a democracy...

      June 18, 2011 at 11:38 am |
    • Stephen Hawking knows MORE than you

      The search for intelligent life continues...

      June 18, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
    • mat


      You're so used to poop that it literally oozes out of your mouth. Hahahahaaaaaa....

      June 18, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
    • Jason

      Chris? you're quite stupid and stubborn enough to drown yourself in a swimming pool.

      June 18, 2011 at 9:26 pm |
  3. heavenbound

    A class act on and off the golf course and the camera.

    June 18, 2011 at 10:26 am |
    • Wade

      I have a 7 year old daughter and she is from Seoul, South Korea. Her name is Leanna. Her Korean name is Lee Eun Jee. We both loved KJ's story. He is a very good role model.

      June 18, 2011 at 10:37 am |
  4. GaryGuitar

    If Mr. Choi wants to give some of his money to help some folks out, I say thank you Mr. Choi. Period. Choi is not responsible for actions of the American governement in South Korea or anywhere else. Zelda and some other bloggers here who believe in an imaginary friend in the sky, that is your opinion, based on what others have persuaded you to believe after you were born. Bottom line, though, it would be good for you all to remember that faith-based means you have decided to try and believe in something of which you are not certain. So, please stop making statements about your imaginary friend in the sky as though you are certain. You don't know any more about what happens when people die than anyone else.

    June 18, 2011 at 10:21 am |
    • galespoint

      if your definition of god is an imaginary friend in the sky? maybe that's why you have no faith. Your comprehension of faith is limited by your uneducated assumptions as to what God is.

      June 18, 2011 at 10:42 am |
  5. KingOfErehwon

    Mr. Choi, you are a better man than I am. I don't know how to say any more.

    June 18, 2011 at 9:25 am |
  6. Greek

    In my reply to Zelda, two errors - should be pro-lifers and "both sides of their mouths" just a quick correction. Zelda you are an unfortunate person who hasn't learned from their life. Everyone has a rough road to walk, our own crosses to bare...stop being a critical thinker and respect people for the good they do – even if it's different than what your own thoughts are. The more you give of yourself the more you will receive....

    June 18, 2011 at 9:19 am |
  7. MoodyMoody

    Mr. Choi sounds like a great human being. Remember, it is HIS money and HE gets to pick what he does with it. Why do so many of you nitpick "he should give to established American Christian charities" or "it is a waste to donate to religious groups"? Why is it so hard to say "Good for you" and "I wish more people would help those less fortunate"? Is it because a good person reminds us of our own failings and limitations? Is it because we feel guilty that we don't do more good with what we have?

    June 18, 2011 at 9:02 am |
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    June 18, 2011 at 8:56 am |
    • b-spring

      John of Patmos wrote Revelations. FAIL!

      June 18, 2011 at 10:04 am |
    • Daniel

      Completely off topic. Take your message somewhere else.

      June 18, 2011 at 10:53 am |
  9. guy

    Now if only the rest us did the same thing...we'd all be better off:) Well done K.J.

    June 18, 2011 at 8:45 am |
    • MoodyMoody

      Like! Like! Like!

      June 18, 2011 at 9:03 am |
  10. herrsonic

    Pls donate to me because I donate to God directly.

    June 18, 2011 at 8:28 am |
  11. BabbleOn

    A nice story about a very nice guy. Mock his humility and beliefs if you must; it only makes you appear smaller.

    June 18, 2011 at 8:23 am |
  12. Reality

    Donations to Christian, Islamic or Jewish groups or any other religious group simply perpetuates the flawed theologies and histories of said groups.

    June 18, 2011 at 7:43 am |
    • realist


      June 18, 2011 at 8:46 am |
    • Madero

      Religious groups do not ever support charitable needs I guess 'Reality'. 90% of volunteer support for Tornado victims in St Louis and Joplin were performed by religious groups.

      June 18, 2011 at 9:57 am |
    • Ryan in Michigan

      @Anfield – Considering the American Red Cross was founded as a Christian organization (hence, the cross on it, or crescent moon in Muslim countries), along with other large organizations like World Vision, Voice of the Martyrs, and the Salvation Army, yeah, I'd say, yeah, they do more work than Unicef.

      June 18, 2011 at 11:33 am |
    • Reality

      The USA taxpayers continue to be the largest supporter (money, time and personnel) of national disasters without imposing religious advertising on the recipients.


      "COLUMBIA, Mo. – Recovery from any disaster is a team effort and a disaster the size of the one in Joplin, Mo. requires all hands on deck. Federal, state, and local agencies, numerous faith-based and voluntary organizations, and people from all walks of life have joined with The Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The combined efforts to help Joplin recover after an EF5 tornado tore through the city more than three weeks ago. To date, 36 recovery missions have been assigned to 17 federal agencies with anticipated costs of $250 million.

      "FE-MA is only part of a large team that can bring resources to assist a community in its response and recovery efforts," explained Libby Turner, Federal Coordinating Officer for the disaster. "These other agencies are able to take on a variety of missions which will supplement state and local efforts to assist the community move forward," she added.

      One of the largest recovery missions reside with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) for Expedited Debris Removal, where extensive and catastrophic damage exist, and providing critical temporary facilities. In total, USACE currently has nine mission assignments.

      •To date 482,187 cubic yards of debris have been removed to two landfills in Kansas and Missouri.

      •The Corps continues to work with city and school officials to identify and design critical facilities for schools, Saint John's Hospital, and first responders.

      Another key assignment, the removal of household hazardous waste, falls on the shoulders of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA):

      •They are tasked with the removal of "white goods" (major appliances such as refrigerators, freezers, stoves, washers and dryers), and electrical goods.

      •To date 36,483 containers of household hazardous waste have been removed from Joplin.

      •EPA is staffing a public drop-off facility daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the former Lone Elm Wastewater Treatment Plant, 2310 North Lone Elm Road, for residents who wish to bring in items for safe and proper disposal.

      The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) has been tasked with organizing the volunteer effort in Joplin.
      •AmeriCorps and other volunteer organizations send out nearly 2,000 volunteers each day from the Volunteer Reception Center (VRC).

      •The VRC has registered 23,623 volunteers since the tornado hit Joplin on May 22, 2011.

      •Volunteers have worked 138,512 hours, equal to more than 47 years, in little more than two weeks time.

      The following Federal agencies have been as-signed disaster recovery missions under FEMA following the Joplin tornado: Department of Agriculture, Corporation for National and Community Service, USACE, Economic Development Administration, Department of Energy, EPA, Federal Aviation Administration, Federal Protective Services, General Services Administration, Health and Human Services, Department of Housing and Urban Development, National Communication System, National Geospatial Agency, and National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration.

      FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

      Disaster recovery assistance is available without regard to race, color, religion, nationality, se-x, age, disability, English proficiency or economic status. If you or someone you know has been discriminated against, call FEMA toll-free at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362). Those with a speech disability or hearing loss who use a TTY call 1-800-462-7585; or use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS) to call 1-800-621-3362.

      June 18, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
  13. Zelda

    Mr. Choi should have donated to Christian American charities with long history. They do better work than any others.

    June 18, 2011 at 3:20 am |
    • realist

      Drone. Who is piloting you? Certainly not yourself

      June 18, 2011 at 8:48 am |
    • daroofa

      He donated $200K to the southern US tornado victims. Remind us again of how much it was that you donated....?

      June 18, 2011 at 8:49 am |
    • Anfield

      So they do more work than say the American Red Cross or Unief?

      June 18, 2011 at 11:08 am |
    • Ryan in Michigan

      @Anfield – Considering the American Red Cross was founded as a Christian organization (hence, the cross on it, or crescent moon in Muslim countries), along with other large organizations like World Vision, Voice of the Martyrs, and the Salvation Army, yeah, I'd say, yeah, they do more work than Unicef. – Sorry, accidentally double posted.

      June 18, 2011 at 11:36 am |
    • Frogist

      @Ryan in Michigan: Everything I've read about the Red Cross says it is absolutely not a religious organization with any religious goals or particular influence. Neither is the Red Crescent. The cross it uses is not a religious symbol, but rather a symbol of whaere it was founded, Switzerland. And the crescent is used to gain acceptance into majority muslim areas who would be more wary of anything even resembling a Christian symbol. I'd appreciate if you could elaborate or provide a link to support your assertions please. I would appreciate it. Thanks.

      June 20, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
  14. Zelda

    The Bible alone prepares humans to fight against any types of evil and provides a will to survive in any condition. Afghans and Iraqis need the Bibles in their own languages and literacy education. The necessity to read the Bible makes one strive for literacy against all odds.

    June 18, 2011 at 3:07 am |
  15. Zelda

    Americans, why don't you read the Bible and get proper education from the Evangelical scholars? You are wasting your brain, your character and your money. Are you still stupidly reading "The Art of War"? No wonder the Chinese are able to create a mighty military force against you. By the way, I can't access to other cites, that's why I'm blogging here ; )

    June 18, 2011 at 2:56 am |
    • realist


      June 18, 2011 at 8:46 am |
    • Madero

      "realist" is ignorant. I suggest you volunteer your time at a religious group of your choice for the poor or tornado victims and reaccess your ignorance. The govt pays people, religious groups do it for free and give almost 100% of donations.

      June 18, 2011 at 10:03 am |
  16. Zelda

    Afghanistan will be blessed if they pray for Israel and aid her. In order to do that, Afghans need the Bibles and literacy education from Christians. Knowing the Bible knocks off all hopelessness, submission to the evil and addiction to stupid stuff. Secular Americans don't know that and rather enforce respect of stupid human cultures. The reason they can't win wars anymore.

    June 18, 2011 at 2:44 am |
  17. Zelda

    North Korean Christians know the meaning of life because of the unparalled sufferings. S. Korea is the #2 international missionariy-sending country next to USA. China, India and Brazil have many more domestic missionaries.

    June 18, 2011 at 1:24 am |
  18. Zelda

    CNN, he won't like to be called a "golf god." You guys are bunch of regressed shammanists but we many Asians grew out of that.

    June 18, 2011 at 1:18 am |
  19. Reality

    Choi should donate his money to the USA federal government to honor all the USA servicemen who died keeping South Korea free and to the USA taxpayers who keep South Korea free today.

    Gifts to the United States
    U.S. Department of the Treasury
    Credit Accounting Branch
    3700 East-West Highway, Room 622D
    Hyattsville, MD 20782

    June 17, 2011 at 3:46 pm |
    • John Richardson

      Nah, the gov't would probably just squander it on something stupid.

      June 17, 2011 at 7:37 pm |
    • Zelda

      Reality, did you sell your house and donate the money to the US govenment? Do it first. The Chinese are coming with bills!

      June 18, 2011 at 2:35 am |
    • Zelda

      US government should donate money to Christian churches for all the civility the nation received from Christianity. At least pay for private schools. Secular education is a trash. No nation will thank America because you disrespect God and Christian churches.

      June 18, 2011 at 3:16 am |
  20. JohnR

    Good man!

    June 17, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
    • Zelda

      We all learned to give our money and ourselves from the British and American missionaries.

      June 18, 2011 at 2:38 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.