Last Updated on Thursday, 07 August 2008 23:57 Monday, 04 August 2008 23:59
A win at the BC Juniors could almost be expected... after all he has won this event for the past four years.
A good showing at the Callaway World Juniors in San Diego was possible given that he tied for 12th there last year.
And you would think that he could do well at the BC Amateur given that it was to be played at Marine Drive his home course from the age of ten until last November.
But to win all three?
As Eugene understatedly sums it up, “I can’t lie. “This is my triple July.”
Wong carded a two-under par 70 in the final round and clinched a five-shot victory.
It continued the next week at the Callaway Junior World Golf Championships in San Diego, California.
After earlier rounds of 75-71-70 on Torrey Pines' 7,161-yard South Course, Wong came from one shot off the pace in the boys 15-17 age group. A closing round of 4-under par 68, thanks to a pair of birdies on his last two holes, had him finish at 284 and win by one shot over Australia's Daniel Nisbet.
He became the first Canadian resident to win the marquee 15-17 age bracket flight in an event that has seen winners from Tiger Woods to Ernie Els.
Earl Fritz, Executive Director of the CJGA was at the tournament and recalls Wong's play. “What a fantastic result for Eugene... Eugene played unbelievable golf today and is a very deserving champion. His result re-affirms the fact that Canada is a force to be reckoned with on the international junior golf stage.”
Lilly put huge pressure on Wong down the stretch and could easily have won but Eugene got up and down to save par on 17, 18 and the first playoff hole to outlast Parker.
A resident of North Vancouver, Wong's golf career started in the Optimist Junior Linkster Golf program in Vancouver at the age of 7.
He actually first swung a club when he was three.
He became a member of Vancouver's legendary Marine Drive Golf Club at age 10 and won the club's Men's Championship at age 15. Last year, he won the Canadian Juvenile title. He is also a repeat winner of the CN Future Links Pacific Championship and a third-place finisher at the USGA Boys Junior Amateur. Earlier this season, he captured medallist honours at the B.C. High School Triple A championships at Nelson’s Granite Pointe before graduating from North Vancouver's Handsworth Secondary.
Wong is now on his way to Oregon University in September to begin a four-year scholarship under the guidance of ex-PGA player Casey Martin.
Inside Golf spoke with Eugene after his practice round at the venerable A.C. Macan design.
He appeared relaxed and upbeat, clearly excited to be playing in the company of some of the better amateurs from across North America.
The week previous, he had been selected to be part of the three-member team to represent the hosting section, the Pacific Northwest Golf Association joining Langley's James Allenby who has just graduated from Oregon State as a 2008 NCAA All-American - Honorable Mention and Washington State's Andrew Putnam who was a 2007 U.S. Amateur Quarterfinalist and brother to PGA Tour player Michael Putnam.
Inside Golf: Let's start with your year so far. Did you have goals that included winning all three of these events?
Eugene Wong: I go into every tournament thinking that I am going to win (smiling). I did want to win the BC Juniors again and I did want to be the first to get the individual title for the BC High School Championship.
iG: Now that golf is officially part of BC High School sports, do you think that is going to encourage more kids to play?
EW: I think that it will inspire more elementary school kids to join - there will be more team spirit.
iG: You won your second BC Junior title at Rivershore. Talk about that.
EW: It was the first time I had played there and the conditions were really windy.
iG: Then you went to San Diego.
EW: Yes. I knew that Torrey Pines would be really challenging, especially only month after the US Open being held there. I knew that conditions would be a lot more tough than last year... more narrow fairways, greens would be faster and very long rough. The rough was still three inches deep. Actually on one par three in the final round, my ball missed the green by a few yards and we were all looking for it and one of the other players found it with only 30 seconds left before I would have had to declare it lost. I then managed to hack it out and it went in for birdie.
EW: Yes, I birdied the last two holes. I stuck it to two-feet on 17 and on 18, I had planned to go for it in two but I went in the bunker (off the tee), so I decided to lay up. My approach ended up 10 feet below the hole. Daniel (Nisbet... the then leader) hit his tee shot in the trees and chipped out and put his third in the water and then managed to get up and down to save bogie and force me to make mine to not have to go into a playoff.
iG: Did you feel nervous?
EW: My heart was pounding in my chest.
iG: How did you feel, getting your name on a trophy along side some of the game's greatest players?
EW: I am pretty honoured to have my name beside all of them.
iG: Winning the BC Amateur at Marine Drive must have been special. Did playing there for so many years make a difference?
EW: Yes. I knew where the ball would bounce. It was also a definite advantage knowing where to miss it.
iG: Have you had any coaching?
EW: Just my dad (Felix). He knows my swing well enough... he's like a second eye.
iG: You haven't had any help from people like Doug Roxburgh and Richard Zokol? (Zokol said of Wong: "Eugene has been an incredible junior and he'll have a wonderful career in golf.")
EW: It's more advise and guidance that they have given me. Both have told me to play a little bit 'upper'... to play with players above your level.
iG: What is your biggest strength?
EW: My long game, my driving. My short game is still in the works.
iG: How far does your average drive carry in the air?
EW: 270, maybe 275 yards.
iG: You are going to Oregon on a scholarship in September to be a "Duck". I guess that will be Eugene in Eugene.
iG: The coach there is Casey Martin. Was that a factor? ("Eugene is probably the best junior golfer in Canada," said Martin on Wong's High School's website. "To get him to come to Oregon was just tremendous. He has the ability to take our program to another level.")
EW: Yes, he has played on the PGA Tour and I first saw him two or three years ago when he spoke to the competitors at a Junior Americas Cup. Since then he has emailed me and sent letters. He was not allowed to talk to me until after grade eleven. He came down and watched my final round at the Callaway Worlds which was great.
iG: Doug Roxburgh was quoted as saying you have PGA Tour ball speed and trajectory. High praise... what did you think when you heard that?
EW: It was pretty inspiring. To hear that from a guy who has seen as many swings as he has.
iG: How do you see yourself. Do you still think of yourself as a junior?
EW: I do still think of myself as a junior... I guess I have to change that if am going to play with the big boys.