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Wang's fine AJGA career comes to a close

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By Richard Palermo, Communications Staff

 

With the drop of a putt on the 54h hole at Valencia Country Club, Ziyi Wang’s AJGA career was finished.

Wang (pronounced Wong) has now officially graduated from the AJGA after an impressive five-year run. In her career, the young woman from Beijing, China, has two victories and nine top ten finishes in her 17 AJGA appearances. “I am super sad,” Wang said on leaving the AJGA. “Hopefully, I will get over it.”

She first started playing AJGA in 2011. In fact, her career began in the most thrilling way possible, by earning medalist honors in an AJGA Qualifier at the Trader Joe’s Junior Championship hosted by Pat Hurst.  “It was my first time ever getting into an AJGA and it’s a shotgun, I was like, where am I going to tee off?!” Wang recalled. Naturally she finished the event T3, earning full exemption for the rest of the summer and the following year.

The next summer, 2012, Wang decided to stay in America for a month and play a new AJGA event each week. “It’s like vacation for me,” Wang said. She’s right, what teenager wouldn’t want to travel to a foreign country to play golf? The first event that summer—the 2012 AJGA Junior at Ruby Hill—she won.

Wang returned in 2013 for another AJGA summer where she was victorious again, this time at the 2013 AJGA Junior at Centennial.  “I knew the AJGA is a really good platform not only to get into college, but to improve my game,” Wang said. The next year, however, the AJGA would be put on hold.

2014 proved to be a defining year for Wang, as the 16-year-old was selected to represent the Chinese National team for the summer. Due to rigorous training, Wang was limited to play in just one AJGA tournament, the Annika Invitational—an all-girl field where she finished T2. 

That August, she qualified to play in her first professional event as an amature, the Xiamen Challenge on the China LPGA Tour. Wang won the tournament by two strokes—after chipping in from 40 yards out for birdie on the 18th hole—making her the youngest winner ever on the China LPGA Tour.

That first professional win qualified her into the 2014 Reignwood LPGA Classic. In the final round, she played alongside Beatriz Recari, and ShanShan Feng—naturally finishing ahead of both at T45.

By the end of the thrilling 2014, Wang built a resume that included one professional win, three professional appearances, and two AJGA wins. This brought dozes of college coaches calling and emailing, trying to recruit Wang, but only two drew her interest: The University of California Berkley and Stanford University.

The decision was not easy for Wang on multiple levels. The time gap between Beijing and California required Wang to wake up at odd hours of the morning to communicate with coaches. Also, Wang struggled making her first difficult choice in life.  “It took five months to make my decision,” Wang said. “I had lots of talks with my parents about it, but they told me it was my decision to make.”

Ultimately, she followed her heart and chose Stanford, “It has been my dream to go to Stanford ever since I was little,” Wang said. “I could not even find a reason to tell Berkley why I chose Stanford, I just said it was a dream of mine.”

Today, the 18-year-old begins college in just over one month, and it cannot come any faster, “it’s the only thing I have been able to think about for the last two months,” Wang said. “I can just believe that it’s all going to be good.” Already, she plans to earn a degree in history.

Wang hopes to turn pro, but not until after she graduates, “No one has ever dropped out of Stanford, except for Tiger Woods,” Wang said. “But I want to graduate first.”