2 N.C. State golfers head to Turkey

calexander@newsobserver.comSeptember 22, 2012 

— N.C. State golfers Augusta James and Albin Choi are taking a different kind of fall break this year.

James and Choi are headed to Antalya, Turkey, a resort city on the Mediterranean coast. Both are representing Canada in the 2012 World Team Amateur Championship.

James, a sophomore and the 2012 ACC freshman of the year, will join Brooke Henderson and Jennifer Kirby on Canada’s women’s team. Choi, a junior All-American, will team with Mackenzie Hughes and Corey Conners in the men’s World Amateur.

"We’re just three Ontario boys, going to Turkey to play some golf and see what we can do," Choi said Thursday. “I’ve played against them for years. Now, we’re on the same team trying to win a gold medal."

France won the Eisenhower Trophy in 2010 as the Canadian men tied for eighth. The women play for the Espirito Santo Trophy, and Korea is the defending champion.

"I think we’ll be a good, strong team," James said. "Jen (Kirby) has played in the World Am before. Brooke and I will be playing for the first time but we three really get along well."

James, from Bath, Ont., will miss class time as the women’s event is set Sept. 27-30. Choi, from Toronto, can fit his trip in nicely in that the Oct. 4-7 men’s event corresponds with NCSU’s fall break.

"Caught a lucky break there," Choi said. "It should be a great experience. A new environment, the travel, a different golf setting."

James’ selection is another positive step for a Wolfpack women’s program that has taken a few the past year. James was the first Pack women’s player to be named the ACC’s top freshman, and the Pack’s team appearance in the 2012 NCAA Championships was a first for the program. James’ stroke-average of 74.14 was the lowest ever for the Wolfpack women.

Choi, in two years, has made his mark on the men’s program. His six-shot win in the recent Tar Heel Intercollegiate in Chapel Hill was his fifth career collegiate victory.

Only former Wolfpack star Matt Hill, another Canadian, has more career wins for NCSU with 10.

"I keep telling myself I’ve got to keep pushing and never be satisfied," Choi said. "I’ll try to get six, then seven ..."

Choi, 31st in the recent World Amateur Golf Ranking, is coming off a challenging summer that has taken him to such spots as Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles (NCAA Championship), Cherry Hills in Denver (U.S. Amateur), Royal Troon in Scotland (British Amateur) and Pinehurst No. 2 (North & South Amateur).

"There’s a lot of history and major championships on those great courses," he said.

Another confidence-builder for Choi was finishing as low amateur in the RBC Canadian Open in late July. He played the final round with Charl Schwartzel, the 2011 Masters champion.

"The experiences keep piling up and I feel more comfortable playing in those events," Choi said. "The more I play, the more I learn."

James, 19, was born April 8, 1993. That was the first day of the 1993 Masters at Augusta National – thus, she said, her name.

James, with a smile, noted she has not yet been to Augusta National. But she’s going to Turkey for the World Amateur.

"Albin and I have a class together and have talked a lot about it," James said. "We’re excited to go and represent our country. And represent N.C. State."

Alexander: 919-829-8945

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