Na Yeon Choi makes hole-in-one in final start, wins BMW

by | Oct 23, 2022 | LPGA

Na Yeon Choi wasn’t going to cry. But then after she hit her tee shot on the 18th, Amy Yang said “Good job” and started to sob. Choi followed suit.

“That last putt,” she said, “I couldn’t really see the ball because of my tears.”

Choi’s final LPGA event proved unforgettable for a number of reasons. During the third round, the 35-year-old South Korean aced the par-3 12th at the BMW Ladies Championship to win a BMW X7 SUV.

On Sunday at Oak Valley Country Club, several LPGA players held up a banner as she wrapped up a decorated career that spanned 18 years. Choi finished with a sparkling 68. Among the players who came out to support was Inbee Park, an LPGA Hall of Famer who wasn’t in the field this week.

Riding off in a sunset.

An ACE for Na Yeon Choi in her final LPGA event! 👏

— LPGA (@LPGA) October 22, 2022

“I would first like to thank my friends for coming all the way from Seoul,” she said. “My friends really supported me during tough times. To support each other and wish the best for each other whilst playing in the same tour, as professional golfers is actually harder than it looks, but Inbee, So Yeon, Jeongeun have helped greatly with golf and mentally as well. So I am really grateful for the five players who are here today.”

Inbee Park of South Korea, So-yeon Ryu of South Korea and former player Ha-neul Kim of South Korea hold a banner to appreciate Na-yeon Choi (not pictured) who is retiring near the 9th green during the final round of the BMW Ladies Championship at Oak Valley Country Club on October 23, 2022 in Wonju, South Korea. (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)

Choi won nine times on the LPGA, including the 2012 U.S. Women’s Open, and rose as high as No. 2 in the world. Choi made the decision to retire earlier this season and asked BMW for a sponsor exemption into this week. She said she leaves the tour with no regrets.

Through her popular YouTube channel, Choi learned that she likes to teach. She’d like to do some of that in the future, if she can figure out a way to do it that’s healthy for her.

“My only concern with this is that personally I think I got really worn out from the emotional side of being a golfer,” she said. “For instance, if I don’t play well, then there’s stress, and I’m struggling with all these emotions. It kind of wore me down. My only concern is I might relate too much to the players or kids that I teach, and I do have a fear about me getting into that emotional cycle again.”

She also has an interest in golf commentary in South Korea.

Riding off in a sunset.

An ACE for Na Yeon Choi in her final LPGA event! 👏

— LPGA (@LPGA) October 22, 2022

As for immediate plans, Choi said she had wanted to go out drinking with friends.

“I don’t know if this makes me old, but I am getting dental implants,” she said, “so I cannot drink alcohol right now. But other than that, I am loving the fact that I no longer have to get up at 4 or 5 a.m.”

Choi said her ace on Saturday came off as exactly as she’d imagined. She immediately had goosebumps after she struck her 6-iron from 171 yards. Adding to the serendipitous moment was that fact that CME Group donates $20,000 for each hole-in-one made on the LPGA to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

“Of course, whenever you ace a hole, you’re ecstatic,” said Choi. “But at the same time, for me, I think I got kind of emotional because it almost seemed like I was being rewarded for all those years of hard work.”

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