The 2016-17 American Family Insurance ALL-USA Boys Golf Teams were selected based on performance and level of competition primarily at the high school level. Junior golf success was a secondary consideration, and those who did not compete regularly for their high school were not considered. Players from states that play in the fall or spring were eligible for selection.
COACH OF THE YEAR: Tim Sewnig, Christian Brothers Academy (Lincroft, N.J.)
Name: Eugene Hong
School: Circle Christian (Winter Park, Fla.)
You don’t earn the nickname “Eugene The Machine” because you do lots of wild and crazy things. Eugene Hong doesn’t do anything crazy on the golf course—he just wins.
Ranked as the No. 12 golfer in the country by the American Junior Golf Association, Hong was consistent and dominant for Circle Christian to earn American Family Insurance ALL-USA Boys Golfer of the Year honors.
Hong won the Florida Class 1A state tournament at the end of October, shooting a 1-under 143 over 36 holes to win by four strokes. He also won the District 11 tournament with a 5-under 67 and the Region 4 tournament with a 3-under 69.
“He has the nickname nationally as ‘Eugene the Machine’ because of the way that he methodically goes about every shot and never seems to make a mistake,” Circle Christian coach Scott Richardson said. “A former teammate now playing in college stated that during his senior year he played 30-plus practice rounds with Eugene and he never saw him lose a golf ball.”
Hong has excelled far beyond his success with the Centurions. A month before winning the high school state title, Hong was a member of the U.S. Junior Ryder Cup team. Playing at the Interlachen Country Club in Edina, Minn., Hong earned the clinching point for the United States in singles play with a win against Matias Honkala of Finland. The U.S. team retained the Cup with a 15½-8½ victory.
A two-time Rolex Junior All-American, Hong won his first AJGA tournament last June at the Haas Family Invitational in North Carolina, shooting a 6-under 210 over three rounds for a four-shot win. He followed that with some fantastic golf with three straight top-10 finishes including a tie for third at the U.S. Junior Amateur and a tie for sixth at the Junior PGA Championships.
His solid play continued after the high school season including a 2017 best placing of 10th at the Thunderbird International Junior in late May. Less than two weeks later at a U.S. Open sectional qualifying tournament in Florida, Hong shot a two-round score of 139 and finished in a three-way tie for third. Hong missed out on a trip to the U.S. Open in Wisconsin when he lost on the third playoff hole against Joaquin Niemann of Chile, the No. 1 ranked amateur in the world. He was named the first alternate but did not make the field.
Last weekend, he returns to the Haas Invitational and finished second after the first playoff hole. Hong shot an even-par 70 in the final round and parred the first playoff hole. Trent Phillips, a member of the ALL-USA second team, had a final round 69 and won the playoff when he rolled in a 12-foot birdie.
“It’s hard to beat him,” Phillips said of Hong. “He’s a phenomenal talent and being able to beat him is sweet.”
And “The Machine” marches on.
“Eugene doesn’t want to just play well,” Richardson said, “he wants to win,”