Eugene Wong, golf’s hottest player
The 22-year-old has made $42,000 in a stretch of three straight victories
Published on Tuesday, Sep. 18, 2012 02:15PM EDT Last updated on Tuesday, Sep. 18, 2012 02:33PM EDT
There’s no end to the conjecture and predictions regarding this week’s Tour Championship in Atlanta, which will spit out the FedEx Cup winner, and to next week’s Ryder Cup in Medinah, Ill. Blather being dominant, it’s the right time to discuss professional golf’s hottest player. About him, no conjectures, predictions, or blather are required. The facts suffice.
Eugene Wong is that golfer.
No other tour player has won his or her last three tournaments. The 22-year-old from North Vancouver turned pro in July, when he signed with the International Management Group. He made the cut in two of his first three tournaments. Wong shot 76-71 to miss the cut at the RBC Canadian Open in Ancaster, Ont.
Wong started his run of wins at the Canadian Tour Championship in Scarboro, Ont. He won the tournament on Aug. 26 by one shot when he holed his 9-iron approach shot on the final hole – effectively, a walk-off home run. He won the Vancouver Open – part of the Vancouver Golf Tour that Fraser Mulholland runs so well – the following week, and then took the Canadian Tour’s last event, the Great Waterway Classic in Ganonoque, Ont. He picked up $42,000 for his Canadian triumvirate.
Now, Wong was not competing against the game’s best players, as Rory McIlroy has been while winning the PGA Championship last month and the last two tournaments in the four-event FedEx playoff series. But a golfer can beat only the golfers he is facing any week. And Wong, the NCAA player of the year in 2010 when he competed for the University of Oregon, has done that in style while getting off to a dream start as a pro golfer.
IMG, Wong said, is trying now to get him into some more tournaments, with “the big boys,” as he said during an interview the other day. By that he meant any of the four Fall Series events on the PGA Tour, which start the week after the Ryder Cup, or any Web.com Tour events.
“I’m more confident now,” Wong said. “When I got out of college, I didn’t know what to expect. I found out my game holds up. I’m not the longest hitter, so I like courses where precision golf is important.”
It’s interesting, to say the least, to learn what a younger player means when he says he’s not a very long hitter. Wong said he can carry his driver “only” 280-285 yards. He added, “long enough to survive.” Could be. Should be.
Wong will try to win his PGA Tour card by going through the grueling three-stage qualifying school tournaments. He’s entered a first stage event Oct. 16-19 in Dayton, Nev. Should he get through, second stage of another 72 holes goes in mid-November. And if Wong makes it through that, the final 108-hole tournament will be in La Quinta, Calif. from Nov. 28-Dec. 3rd. The low 25 and ties for 25th from the final event will win their 2013 PGA Tour cards.
Wong knows he’ll have to play exceptionally well to make it through all three stages. While he’s gained confidence from his wins, it doesn’t appear that he’s putting pressure on himself to make it to the PGA Tour next year. He could get to the Web.com Tour if he doesn’t reach the PGA Tour, and there’s always the Canadian Tour. His Canadian Tour Championship provides him a two-year exemption there.
Whatever happens, Wong has stamped himself as a talented golfer. The Tour Championship, the FedEx conclusion, and the Ryder Cup are golf’s big events this month. But Wong shouldn’t be ignored. He’s been a newsmaker, and he’s a Canadian to watch.
RELATED LINK: More blogs from Lorne Rubenstein
Lorne Rubenstein has written a golf column for The Globe and Mail since 1980. He has played golf since the early 1960s and was the Royal Canadian Golf Association’s first curator of its museum and library at the Glen Abbey Golf Club in Oakville, Ontario and the first editor of Score, Canada’s Golf Magazine, where he continues to write a column and features. He has won four first-place awards from the Golf Writers Association of America, one National Magazine Award in Canada, and, most recently, he won the award for the best feature in 2009 from the Golf Journalists Association of Canada. Lorne has written 12 books, including The Natural Golf Swing, with George Knudson (1988); Links: An Insider’s Tour Through the World of Golf (1990); The Swing, with Nick Price (1997); The Fundamentals of Hogan, with David Leadbetter (2000); A Season in Dornoch: Golf and Life in the Scottish Highlands (2001); Mike Weir: The Road to the Masters (2003); A Disorderly Compendium of Golf, with Jeff Neuman (2006); This Round’s on Me (2009); and the latest Moe & Me: Encounters with Moe Norman, Golf’s Mysterious Genius (2012). He is a member of the Ontario Golf Hall of Fame and the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame.
Lorne can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can now follow him on Twitter @lornerubenstein