The curious case of Hosung Choi

Why we can't get enough of this Asian Tour player


Legendary sportswriter George Plimpton famously authored a Sports Illustrated story about a supposed NY Mets pitching prospect named Sidd Finch. In 1985, Plimpton reported that the Mets had acquired an English orphan raised in the mountains of Tibet that taught himself to pitch a baseball by throwing rocks at Himalayan mountains. Sidd Finch, the world was told, could throw 168 miles per hour. This story swept the country. Two MLB general managers told the league office that Sidd Finch should be barred from playing until it could be determined whether it was safe to play against a person throwing the ball 168mph. In the end, Plimpton’s article was a cleverly disguised April Fool’s joke. It fooled everyone.

With this story in mind, I was initially skeptical when the golf world lost its collective mind Saturday about the game of Hosung Choi. On Saturday, Tee-K Kelly tweeted a video of this Korean golfer’s highly unorthodox, pirouette-style swing. The video is captivating, and it swept the golf world with unprecedented rapture. Hosung Choi – we are told – is basically golf’s most interesting man in the world. He’s a 44-year-old Korean pro who only started to play in his 20’s. He lost his thumb at age 18 in an industrial accident. And his golf swing dubbed the “Fisherman’s Swing”… my… it is a sight to behold:

Suspecting Hosung Choi to be some modern version of Sidd Finch, I tuned into the Korean Open on Saturday night at 10:00 to see this phenomenon with my own eyes. As it turns out, every detail of the Hosung Choi story is real. That swing is actually how he swings. It’s the way he plays golf. And, my god, watching him play is a refreshing, visceral joy. To top it off Choi can actually play. He’s currently the 554th ranked player in the world. Though he failed to qualify for the British Open, he finished T5 alongside PGA Tour Pro (and recent hot hand) Kevin Na.

On another front, Choi may have accomplished what no one else has been able to do since vintage Tiger Woods: get Americans interested in an Asian Tour event televised at 10 pm on a Saturday. I have no idea what kind of ratings the Korean Open usually gets at 10 on a Saturday night, but I am confident this past Saturday will set some record. My twitter feed was filled with people that tuned in and everyone – EVERYONE – was there for Hosung Choi. Hopefully, PGA TOUR sponsors were paying attention. If Tony Romo and Jake Owen can justify taking out spots on the PGA and Web.com Tour, Hosung Choi belongs out there.