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Golf Digest in Korea referred to the program as a “National Standing Army” of players, and the competition is stiff. The KGA takes eight players (four boys, four girls) at the elementary school level, 22 players from middle school, 26 players from high school and six players from the university level. An additional 12 comprise the national team.

Being part of this army means their expenses are paid. All KGA-registered golf clubs waive green fees for these players. They play some half-dozen international competitions each year, with the focus heavily on the Asian Games. And they take part in a winter training camp that last two months, which emphasizes fitness and fosters openness among players. More than anything, it builds pride in wearing the Korean flag on uniforms as a team member.

“If we prepare the players steadily from now on, we won’t have a problem in winning Olympic medals,” KGA vice chairman Dong-wook Kim told Golf Digest.

All these developments bring a smile to Choi.

Even though he hasn’t won a major, young Koreans look to him in the same way so many women were inspired by Pak. Kang noted that even when Pak was winning majors, there were other Korean women on the LPGA Tour, such as Mi-Hyun Kim. On the PGA Tour, for the longest time there was only Choi.

At the Memorial this year, there was a poignant moment when two young Koreans stood quietly to the side of the putting green to watch Choi, then going out onto Muirfield Village for a practice round.

“When I first started winning on the PGA Tour, they were in their teens,” Choi said. “They were kids. And now they’re here.”