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K.J. Choi says caddie Andy Prodger, who won two majors in the 1980s while carrying Nick Faldo's bag,
K.J. Choi says caddie Andy Prodger, who won two majors in the 1980s while carrying Nick Faldo's bag, "makes me very comfortable." (Photo: Getty Images)

Choi continues torrid play with 69 at Carnoustie

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No player entered the Open Championship as hot as K.J. Choi, who won two of his last three starts. The South Korean kept it up Thursday at Carnoutie, carding a 2-under 69 that could have been much lower save a sloppy finish.

By Melanie Hauser, Correspondent

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland -- We all know what the K.J. stands for.

But until Thursday afternoon we didn't know why two-time 2007 PGA TOUR winner K.J. Choi went with initials instead of Kyoung Ju.

It all goes back to the 1998 Open Championship -- his first.

"The first tee announce 'Kung Choi,' it's very difficult," he said. "My idea is next day Kyoung Ju is very long, who is that? And the K initial and J initial, everybody understand K.J., so very simple name and Choi.

"And the next day, K.J. Choi from Korea, so easy."

The game itself seemed easy enough early on Thursday during the first round of the Open Championship at Carnoustie -- even in the worst conditions -- as Choi, who won the Memorial Tournament and AT&T National in less than a month, birdied four of the first six holes to settle in atop the leader board at 4-under-par.

"This type of course fits my game because you need to hit a lot of fade shots," he said. "I haven't hit one draw today. This course requires for players to hit low fades, high fades and that's what I've done and I think it really suits my game."

Choi bogeyed the seventh hole, got one back at the 13th, then bogeyed 15 and 18 coming in to settle for a 69 -- one shot behind then-early leader Michael Campbell.

Choi practiced in the rain Wednesday, anticipating the early rains Thursday. So, he said, "when it started to rain, I didn't feel too concerned. Today I just found my rhythm and had a good round."

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Course: Tour Carnoustie
The Field: See who's playing
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All the Open Championship News

Three more and ... who knows? He's made no secret that he'd like to be the first Asian to win a men's major. He's playing great, but he's also got a secret weapon, of sorts, in caddie Andy Prodger, who carried Nick Faldo's bag for a number of years in the 1980s, including one of Faldo's three Open Championship wins at Muirfield in 1987.

"I've won a lot of tournaments with Andy now," Choi said. "He just makes me very comfortable, helps me to really focus during my round. He's a very good friend. He's also like a big brother to me. I just feel very comfortable when we work together."

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