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Korean golf star Choi donates $100K to victims of Japan earthquake

K.J. Choi progressed to the PGA Tour in 1999 after making his name on the Asian and Japanese circuits.
K.J. Choi progressed to the PGA Tour in 1999 after making his name on the Asian and Japanese circuits.
  • K.J. Choi makes contribution to help those in Japan, where he played earlier in career
  • Korean veteran follows example of Japan's Ryuji Imada, who asked for donations
  • Both are playing at the PGA Tour's Transitions Championship in Florida this week
  • Anthony Wall takes two-shot lead at halfway stage of European Tour's Italian event

(CNN) -- South Korean golfer K.J. Choi has pledged $100,000 to the Japan disaster relief fund through his personal charity foundation.

The 40-year-old, who won two tournaments on the Japanese circuit before becoming the first from his country to qualify for the U.S. PGA Tour, will give the money to the American Red Cross.

"It is shocking and terribly sad to see what is happening every day in Japan and the difficulty they face in overcoming this disaster. The situation in Japan impacts us all on a global level," Choi said in a statement on Friday.

"This is the time for us to join our hands together and do all we can to help our friends in Japan. I have special memories of playing in Japan as it set the stepping stone in helping me to become the first Korean to earn a PGA Tour card.

"Through the K.J. Choi Foundation, I want to implement projects that can attract continuous interest and support to help our neighbors in Japan."

This is the time for us to join our hands together and do all we can to help our friends in Japan
--K.J. Choi
  • Japan
  • K.J. Choi
  • Asia
  • PGA Tour
  • Golf

Choi has followed the example set by Japanese golfer Ryuji Imada, who is also playing at the Transitions Championship in Tampa Bay, Florida.

Imada wrote a note on Wednesday stating that he would donate $1,000 for every birdie score he makes at the tournament this week, and left copies in the media room and players' locker area asking for similar contributions.

The Hiroshima native, who moved to the U.S. in 1990 at the age of 14 to pursue a career as a golfer, carded no birdies in his opening round of 74 on Thursday but managed two in his 75 on Friday.

He was 16 shots behind American leaders Chris Couch and Garrett Willis as he missed the halfway cut along with 19-year-old compatriot Ryo Ishikawa (73) and seven-time PGA Tour winner Choi (75).

Spain's Sergio Garcia made a welcome return to form with a 66 that left him tied for third with American Webb Simpson, a shot behind the leaders.

World No. 1 Martin Kaymer was five shots off the pace, tied for 26th in a group including last weekend's WGC-Cadillac Championship winner Nick Watney.

Meanwhile, English golfer Anthony Wall has credited a cheap mobile-phone application for the form which has taken him to the top of the leaderboard at the halfway stage of the European Tour's Sicilian Open.

Seeking to follow up his maiden victory 11 years ago, the 35-year-old carded a bogey-free four-under-par 67 in Friday's second round to claim a two-shot lead at Donnafugata Golf Resort.

He said tips from former European Tour player Tony Johnstone had helped his putting stroke, but an iPhone application about reading greens by noted short-game specialist David Stockton -- who has helped the likes of three-time Masters champion Phil Mickelson -- had really paid off.

"That is the best 59 pence (95 cents) I have ever spent because his tips have really simplified a few things for me," Wall told the European Tour website.

"I have just been looking at the low side of every putt for the last two days -- really concentrating on the last third of the putt as opposed to the whole putt -- and that has definitely helped me. I haven't holed everything but I have hit my putts a lot better.

"It was a bargain, I have to say -- you don't get many valuable lessons for 59 pence these days! The thing about Dave Stockton is that he is and always was an amazing putter, and you tend to listen to those guys a bit more."

Wall, ranked 206th in the world, is being chased by Australia's No. 64 Richard Green and France's Raphael Jacquelin, both on seven-under 135.

Left-hander Green, at 64th the top player in the field, bounced back from a double-bogey at his opening hole to card 67, with birdies at two of his last three greens.

They are followed by a group of five players tied for fourth on 137, while former European Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie was in a bunch of six another shot back after his second successive 69.