Chella Choi was a member of the 2006 Korean
National Second Team; that year, she also won the Korea Junior
Golf Association Championship.
In 2007, she played at a KLPGA event and finished
14th while still an amateur. At the end of that year, she
turned pro and came to America, where she joined the Futures
Tour. In 2008, she played 17 events on tour, making four top
tens including a second place finish. She finished the year
ranked 17th on tour in money.
That December, she went to LPGA Qualifying
School. By the end of the week, she was one of four players
left playing for the final two full membership cards. They
played three holes to determine their fate. Choi birdied the
first, and after three holes, had the lead; one of the two
cards was hers! Thus, she became a rookie on tour in 2009.
In 2009, Choi worked hard to gain full status,
but in the end just fell short, finishing 86th on the year
end money list. Her best finish was a 20th. Choi's record
improved in 2010. She made twice as much money, finished higher
on the money list, and earned category 1 status for 2011.
She was still looking for her first top ten finish, however.
Chella's career made a major move up in 2011.
She scored her first two top tens, had a fabulous US Women's
Open where she nearly made another top ten, and made over
$300,000 on the season to finish 35th on the money list. She
also had a scoring average below par for the first time ever.
This performance positioned her as one of the most promising
of the young Koreans on tour.
In 2012, Chella took another huge leap forward
in her career, contending multiple times for titles and finishing
in the top 20 on the money list (20th) for the first time
in her career. She still didn't win, but she lost in a playoff
at the Manulife, where she shot her career best score of 63
in the final round, and was tied for the lead on the back
nine at the CN Canadian Women's Open before fading to 3rd.
She notched five other top tens, another career best, including
her first ever top ten in a Major at the British Open and
a tie for third at the Jamie Farr and the HSBC Brasil Cup.
Her scoring average was also a career best, and she earned
twice what she had in her previous best season, 2011.
Chella revealed to the press that she intended to keep her
father as her caddie until she won her first LPGA event, upon
which he would be allowed to retire. In 2013, Chella's dad
came close to retiring several times, but he will still be
on her bag in 2014. Still, it was another season where she
improved a lot. Her best moment probably came at the Mizuno
Classic, where she vaulted into the lead in the final round
thanks to a 66, only to see Theresa Lu, a Taiwanese player
who had lost LPGA privileges and played on the JLPGA, shoot
a 64, with birdies on her final two holes, to zoom ahead of
her and get the win. Chella's solo second place finish was
her career best.
Chella also was a factor at two different Majors. She contended
at the Evian until a triple bogey late on Sunday dropped her
to sixth. She also played well at the LPGA Championship, where
she made her best ever Major finish, a tie for 5th. At the
Mobile Bay LPGA Classic she led after three rounds, but could
not find enough birdies on Sunday and finished tied for 4th.
In 2013, Chella managed 7 top tens, finished a career high
17th on the money list, made more than $750,000 on the year
(also a career record), and had a fantastic 70.69 scoring
average, 10th in the league. With Amy Yang finally getting
her first win in 2013, Chella has now become the best Korean
golfer without a tour win. Hopefully she will cross that goal
off her list in 2014!