By Chris Hummer, Communications Intern
Cheng Jin travels from coast-to-coast to play his golf during the summer, and that’s not West Coast to East Coast, it’s Eastern Hemisphere to Western Hemisphere.
The 15-year-old Singapore native is a world traveler during the summer. He stays in the U.S. for much of the summer competing in AJGA events to hone his skills and boost his status – Jin is currently the 22nd ranked player in the Polo Golf Rankings.
Last week he competed at the Ravenwood Junior Championship in Victor, N.Y., where he fired a scorching final round 6-under-par 66 to erase a five-stroke deficit and snag the victory. Jin strolled out of the scoring tent with a confident demeanor like the 66 was an everyday thing.
When people congratulated him he politely nodded and said thanks, but he never gave a big fist-pump or celebrated loudly. Jin was actually more excited about another prize that came with his win besides the champion’s trophy: the Scotty Cameron putter head cover that is awarded to the player with the lowest final round of the tournament.
“I wasn’t even thinking about the win,” Jin said. “I was really going for the Scotty. I told myself 5-under-par should be good for the Scotty and I went out and shot six.” But he’s not just participating in AJGA events; two months ago the smooth-swinging junior participated in a European Tour event: the Volvo China Open. Jin missed the cut, but he considers the experience invaluable to his progression as a golfer.
“The event was very tough,” Jin said. “But the experience I gained in the tournament was great and will help my game.”
Jin says the tournament was a bit of a wakeup call for him. He’s always been the best or among the best player in his age group, but the level of competition in the professional ranks is on a different plane.
“It felt really good [to play out there],” Jin said. “But it’s not easy to play on tour, the events are huge. The atmosphere is totally different than the junior events.”
Jin is still four years away from a big decision; to play golf in college or turn professional early, a move many young players from outside the U.S. make. Jin isn’t quite ready to make that choice or really even think about it, he’s just enjoying his time during the summers and meeting new people and making friends.
“I really enjoy playing here [Ravenwood Golf Club],” Jin said. “It’s really fun. I enjoy playing with kids my age. It’s a 50-50 thing, playing in professional events is good experience, but playing with kids my age is a lot of fun.”
The Singapore native even likes the AJGA’s Pace of Play system. He likes to play fast and doesn’t want to sit on the course for hours like some professional events he’s competed in.
This week Jin, a two-time AJGA winner, will compete in the Rolex Tournament of Champions at Lancaster Country Club in Pennsylvania. The event is one of the biggest on the AJGA’s schedule, and while it isn’t quite the European Tour, a positive showing in Lancaster would be a monumental moment in his career.