Nathan Wang (NCGA photo)
When you've done something to follow in the footsteps of Johnny Miller, you know you've done something special.
, freshman-to-be at Cal-Berkeley, did just that by winning the annual NCGA Amateur Stroke Play Championship on Sunday at Poppy Hills by a stroke over runner-up Garett Wagner
. Wang, a former standout at Archbishop Mitty High, is still only 17 years old. Miller was 17 when he won the title in 1964. The two are believed to be the youngest champions in the 42-year history of the event.
"It feels pretty good," said Wang, who had his dad, Wilson, on the bag as a caddie each day. "The course setup was insanely hard."
Wang would be the only player to shoot par or better each of the three rounds, going 71-70-71 for a total of 1-under 212. A shot off the lead for much of the final round, his big breakthroughs came on the par-4 16th and par-3 17th.
Tied for the lead with Wagner, Wang on 16 hit his second shot--a gap wedge from 135 yards out--to within 4 feet of the flagstick for a birdie. A hole later, on the 17, he drained a 35-foot birdie putt to take a one-shot lead. He'd seal the victory with a par on the closing par-5 18th.
Just last week, Wang qualified for the U.S. Amateur after carding a medalist-earning score of 10-under 134 at a 36-hole qualifer at Almaden CC.
"I've been playing well. I came here wanting to keep that mojo," Wang said. "It all comes down to how you handle shot-by-shot."
Wagner made a charge with a low round of the day 70 that featured three birdies and two bogeys. A final birdie on 18 made him the clubhouse leader at a total of even-par 213, But Wang came through with his magic putt on the 17th.
"I knew it was going to play hard. I just came out trying to make pars," Wagner said. "He just beat me."
Third place went to Domingo Jojola
at 216 after a final round 71.
Wang, who didn't peek at the leaderboard until he was walking up the 18th, also got to share the win with his mom, Sherry, who spectated.
"It was awesome to have them here," Wang said. "It's been a while since I've had my dad on the bag as caddie. It was nice to have a father-son duo again."
ABOUT THE NCGA Stroke Play
First played in 1944, the NCGA Stroke Play
Championship has a special history, as the
tournament has been won
by the likes of Ken Venturi and Johnny Miller. The
perpetual trophy was donated by the San Francisco
Examiner in 1944.
Championship play is 54 holes of
stroke play (18 holes per day). After 36 holes the
field will be cut to 40 players and ties. Pre-qualifying
required for non-
exempt players. Open to players with handicaps of
5.4 or lower.
View Complete Tournament Information