(ATTN: ADDS Choi's comments in last 3 paras)
SEOUL, Sept. 27 (Yonhap) -- Veteran Choi Kyoung-ju has won a PGA Tour Champions tournament, becoming the first Korean golfer to win a men's professional senior golf tour event.
Choi, affectionately known as K.J. Choi, shot a final round of 68, with five birdies and one bogey, for a total of 13-under 203 at the PGA Tour Champions PURE Insurance Championship held at Pebble Beach Golf Links in Pebble Beach, California, on Sunday (U.S. time).
It is the first victory for a Korean golfer at the PGA Tour Champions, formerly known as the Senior PGA Tour, a high-profile tournament for golfers over 50.
The 51-year-old is regarded as a pioneer in South Korean golf after becoming the first Korean to win a PGA Tour tournament in 2002. Since then, he has collected seven more PGA Tour trophies.
Starting the final third round on the top of the leaderboard by two strokes, Choi hit four straight birdies beginning at the fifth hole to cement his lead.
He only had one bogey on the 14th hole and maintained his two-stroke lead over Germans Bernhard Langer and Alex Cejka the rest of the way.
He will receive US$330,000 in prize money.
It took more than 10 years for Choi to win a PGA Tour-sanctioned tournament since he last won The Players Championship in 2011.
And the latest victory is his first trophy at an official golf tournament since he won the Korean Tour's CJ Invitational, hosted by himself, in 2012.
"Winning a tournament is always very difficult, and the first win is more exciting," he said in a post-match media interview. "In 2002, I first pulled off my first victory in America at the PGA Tour. Today I experience exactly the same feeling with that."
He said he has tried to work harder and have a positive mindset to overcome chronic back pain and a thyroid disorder that he suffered from two years ago, before debuting on the PGA's senior tour last year.
"They are all legendary players who are still in good form. They have good techniques, and they are long hitters," he said. "I'm grateful that I can join the PGA Tour Champions."
S. Korean LPGA stars off-kilter with Tokyo Olympics nearing
One gone, three in minor league in challenging season for KBO's foreign hitters
N. Korea's withdrawal from Tokyo Olympics dampens hope for renewing inter-Korean sports cooperation
Systemic changes necessary to eliminate violence in S. Korean school sports: experts
Ex-KBO MVP Yang Hyeon-jong in solid position to win Rangers rotation battle