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. Marty in MA

    If I shared my lifetime golf winnings (total $20) we'd both be poor 🙂

    Good job, Choi


    June 18, 2011 at 11:30 pm |
  2. peakarach

    Has any Christians and Muslims ever met god personally?

    June 18, 2011 at 11:13 pm |
    • George

      paekarach, this is the dumbest statement I have read in a long time

      June 18, 2011 at 11:26 pm |
    • (B)iraq Hussein Osama

      You cannot meet God personally, because "he" is most likely beyond our physical capabilities to fathom him. This based on the level of sophistication of his creation, the cosmos and us and the animal kingdom.

      metaphorically speaking, Its like introducing an ant to a human. "hey, ant, meet God" all the ant sees is a huge stationary wall (our toe). and wonders what use is this "God". of course the ant is not physically capable of seeing the entire human being and his sophistication. thats why its an ant.

      June 18, 2011 at 11:33 pm |
    • IslandAtheist

      Has a child ever met the Tooth Fairy?

      June 19, 2011 at 12:56 am |
  3. Senior Citizen

    Just finished watching the Open and KJ is such a wonderful golfer and to know that he also shares his wealth, as do many in the golfing world, makes me proud and humbled by his generosity. Way to go KJ.

    June 18, 2011 at 9:24 pm |
    • Larry

      In this age of overinflated egos and criminal behavior among sports personalities it is refreshing to read about a generous, humble athlete. Of course he is not the only one, but he surely is in the minority. Keep up the good works KJ, we all appreciate what you do. I am not a golf fan generally, but I will make an exception and watch when you are playing.

      June 18, 2011 at 9:57 pm |
  4. James Black


    June 18, 2011 at 9:03 pm |
  5. ADOC

    Nice one Mat.

    June 18, 2011 at 8:55 pm |
  6. Curtis Howard

    Really nice article. Probably the best I've read in a long time.

    June 18, 2011 at 8:47 pm |
  7. gozer

    Golf is a good walk spoiled – Mark Twain

    Take your mind-polluting god stories and your earth-polluting golf greens, and shove them.

    June 18, 2011 at 8:02 pm |
    • TheQuietMan

      Awwww… How you must hate your life… (And before you go off blaming my comment on some "religious nut"… I'm what many would call an atheist or a non-believer, although I don't limit myself with such labels. I just recognize all kinds of mean, unhappy people when I see them.)

      June 18, 2011 at 8:33 pm |
    • greg

      sounds like you are in a dark place,i hope you choose the light over the darknss, however you choose though, the universe will honour your decision,,as above,so below, what one put out,is what one gets back,peace.

      June 18, 2011 at 9:03 pm |
    • Marine5484

      soooooooo.........angrrrrrrrry! you really need to try breathing techniques or some kind of hobby to calm you down.

      June 18, 2011 at 9:11 pm |
  8. Francis N

    He is the man!

    June 18, 2011 at 7:52 pm |
  9. Thanks, KJ!

    Gam-sa-ham-ni-da (Thank you) KJ! You live and work in the US and you do your good things without requiring the attention that you could certainly get given your status. There's no need to comment on the couple of negative comments below. This is a good man doing a good thing for people in his country. There are many others making commente below who don't do anything similar to KJ. As for professional athletes, here's an interesting fact: 5 years after leaving the NFL most players are either 1) bankrupt 2) divorced 3) on drugs or 4) in rehab. It's so nice to see a star who is not so self-absorbed!!!

    June 18, 2011 at 6:37 pm |
  10. Lark

    if only he gave simply because it is kind, and pragmatic, and logical. And because it feels right, and good. If only those were his reasons.

    June 18, 2011 at 6:34 pm |
    • Andrew

      I am also a non-believer, but that doesn't mean all people have to be non-believers. Whatever the reason for a good deed it should be praised. If he donated in the name of Hitler, the devil, and everything evil I could care less. Doing good things for all types of people is really the most important thing.

      June 18, 2011 at 7:12 pm |
    • Frogist

      @Andrew: I agree with you. He could pray to Cthulu for all I care so long as he's doing good things. And obviously, if he gave money to provide aid like food and shelter to those who needed it in the wake of those tornadoes, that is a good thing.

      June 20, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
    • W247

      Hey Lark – you know him personally to be able to ascertain what his real reasons are?

      June 20, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
  11. PeterD

    Well Done and Good Luck.

    June 18, 2011 at 5:40 pm |
  12. Suck-Min Kim

    Keep practicing your virtue which is muscle of soul! I am very proud of you.

    June 18, 2011 at 5:05 pm |
  13. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Choi sharing his money with others speaks louder than some of the stupid opinions some people just have to share.

    June 18, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
  14. Sonny HamS(함성문)

    In my opinion, Mr. Choi, you are wonderful person, who is not only an excellent golf player, but also an inspiring Christian, and I applaud you. We at St. John's Korean United Methodist Church in Lexington, MA, still invite you to our church to share your testimony. I hope you will find the time to visit our church to share your experience with us. We are proud of you. May God be with you always

    June 18, 2011 at 2:38 pm |
  15. Jochebed

    What a great Christian – allowing himself to be referred to as a "god". Oy.

    June 18, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
    • BT

      Yes, I'm sure Choi was in the room when the reporter wrote this article and approved the use of the work "god."

      June 18, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
  16. Havok

    @Chris – this is your mother, you need to go to bed. You have an early day tomorrow and need to rest up for finger painting. Your lunch box is in the fridge. xoxoxoxo

    June 18, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
  17. Chris Honry

    God bless K.J. Choi, the world needs more men like him.

    June 18, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
    • chris

      Right on – KJ Choi my new favorite golfer.

      June 18, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
  18. DL

    It must a shock to many people that a man with a Korean face could be admired by the American media so much for helping Americans. Last time I checked, this article was about a guy who donates a large share of his earnings to charity. I don't know why some of the comments need to be about politics or the fact that he wasn't born here.

    June 18, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
  19. Neal

    Right on, Mr. Choi. I'm not a religious man, but if that is what drives him to do right by his fellow travelers, I am behind him 100%. It takes a very special heart to see beyond yourself when you are in such an insulated and privileged position. Tiger could learn something from this good friend of his, and I hope he does.

    June 18, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
  20. Brad

    @ Chris [June 18, 2011] – It's individuals like yourself who will criticize a person when they do something right and also when they do something wrong. I'm willing to bet you are the type of person who will denounce celebrities for not doing enough when they're more than capable compared to the average person. Then, when someone like Choi donates back to society, you find fault in his actions anyway. There's no pleasing you. If you are that displeased with Choi's donation, why don't you donate the same amount?

    June 18, 2011 at 11:53 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.