Incoming Cal freshman Nathan Wang birdied two of the final three holes Sunday at Poppy Hills to come from behind and win medalist honors at the NCGA Amateur Stroke Play Championship.
Wang was tied for the lead with second-place Garrett Wagner when he hit a gap wedge from 135 yards to within four feet of the flag on the 16th hole and made his putt for a birdie three. Wagner was playing ahead of Wang and kept pace with a birdie on the par-four 18th before Wang nailed a 35-foot birdie putt on the par-three 17th to retake the lead and made par on 18 to win by one stroke.
Wang (71-70-71 – 212, -1) was the only golfer in the 87-player field to play the 54-hole event under par and finished one shot ahead of Wagner (71-72-70 – 213, E). Wang was also the only player to shoot par or better in all three rounds.
“I’ve been playing well. I came here wanting to keep that mojo,” Wang told NCGA.org. “It all comes down to how you handle shot-by-shot.”
“Winning the NCGA Stroke Play Am feels very accomplishing,” Wang added. “I have been very close in the past but qualifying and medaling for the US Am and NCGA Am more importantly shows myself that I have what it takes to get the job done when needed to. Seeing hours and hours of hard work and practice pay off is also such a great feeling because people know how unforgiving golf can be.”
“A day of not giving up and grinding got me the victory in the end,” Wang said.
Wang is believed to have become only the second 17-year-old to win the event with the only other golf legend Johnny Miller in 1964. Miller is the grandfather of Wang’s future Cal teammate Simon Kwon, who was the runner-up at the Utah Sate Amateur on Saturday.
Former Cal golfer Ian Dahl (74-69-79 – 222, +9) was also in the event and finished tied for 12th. Dahi won the NCGA Mid-Amateur Championship this past June.