Embracing Big Changes

January 29 2013, Katie Ann Robinson
Being a major champion and the No. 2 golfer in the world comes with its own pressures and challenges when preparing for a new season. So far this year the biggest challenge for Na Yeon Choi is confronting her fear of the pool in the backyard of her new home in Orlando, Fla.  

“I don’t know how to swim,” Choi admits. “I’m kind of scared to learn to swim so I might dangle my feet in the water or just float there. So I’m looking for a tube or something I can just relax and float in, but I haven’t found one yet.”

Shortly after taking the title at the season-ending CME Group Titleholders and banking her second-largest paycheck of the year, Choi began her search to find a bigger place to call home in Orlando. In no time at all, Choi had signed a housing contract and became a member at the Isleworth Golf and Country Club.

 The 25-year-old then ventured back home to South Korea to spend half of the off-season celebrating her success with friends and family while her house was getting put together by an interior decorator. After the New Year, Choi and her family came to the U.S. to move into her new home and begin preparing for the 2013 season.

While Choi puts in nearly 10-plus hours at the course every day, her family absorbs all the joys of living in the sunshine state during the winter. At home, her mother, Jeong Me Song, stays busy in the kitchen every day to feed the six mouths now living in the Choi residence, including her two dogs. Meanwhile, her brother attends classes at a university and her father, Byeong Ho, takes his sticks to the course to play a few rounds with friends.  Choi says having her family around has helped her embrace the big adjustment.

“I’m really glad they are here with me,” Choi said. “I don’t really have a lot of time to spend with my family during the season and even now when I’m practicing all the time. But they are here and I feel more comfortable.”

On top of settling into the change in scenery, Choi begins the 2013 season with a few new faces on her team including her English tutor turned manager, Greg Morrison. With a smile on her face, the South Korean exudes excitement and an optimistic approach to the changes she’s made.

“Kind of everything changed for me this year,” says Choi. “I got a new manager, new trainer, new house, and new people around me so I feel really excited to start the new season.”

Coming off a season where she clinched her sixth- and seventh-career LPGA victories, placed second on the 2012 Official Money List at $1,981,834 and ranked No. 2 in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings, the reigning U.S. Women’s Open champion admits she’s feeling the pressure to build onto her already impressive résumé.

“Sometimes it’s really hard to believe where I am right now,” Choi said. “A lot of people are like ‘you are No. 2!’ but I don’t really think about it too much. It’s a great honor and I am happy but nothing has changed in my life. I just go to the golf course every day and practice, play a few holes and work hard. If I practice right then the results will come.”

Now seen as a public figure in her hometown and even in the U.S. she says the biggest fear she has this year is disappointing her fans.

“I definitely come into 2013 working hard but I can’t control all the results,” Choi says. “If I have bad results I feel like I will disappoint my fans. I don’t want that. That’s why I work so hard and fingers crossed I have another great season.”

 

Topics: This week it is all about Me, Player Feature, Choi, Na Yeon

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