As she plays her way toward being the best individual golfer in her school’s history, Sun Young Jung’s impact at Glendale High School may carry further than any long drive down an open fairway.
Most of the field expects the senior to win every time she walks onto the tee. The defending Class 2 state champion has delivered thus far in 2014, winning every match or tournament in which she competed.
Seems as if nothing will stop her. Take Thursday, when she returned from a bout with the flu.
Jung shot 1-over on the short, technical course at Fremont Hills Country Club in the Ozark Invitational. A week ago, she set the course record at Marshfield Country Club, firing a 64 — with seven birdies — in the Seymour Invitational. Her score beat her previous record of 67, set last year.
“I’m a long hitter, so Fremont you really can’t hit long. It’s a short course so you have to think a lot, and it’s so narrow that you have to control your ball,” Jung said.
Ask her about her aspirations for herself, Jung is quiet. Ask about her team, and she smiles. Jung knows other players, teammates and opponents expect to be awed at her play.
“It’s kind of heavy on the shoulders because a lot of people are expecting more, I bet,” Jung said. “This year we have a good team. I’m just happy for having a team because I started out having no full team. It’s getting bigger, and I’m just happy for that.”
Jung says she wants to concentrate on making memories with friends and not thinking too much about her individual performances. She will face plenty of familiar opponents from southwest Missouri this fall before playing in the Class 2 District 5 championship tournament in West Plains on Sept. 29.
“I don’t compare myself much. I just play my golf, and I think that’s the right mind to have when you’re out on the course,” Jung said. “I have golfers that I look and learn from, because they’re good at some things that I’m not, so I learn from them. I don’t say they’re my rival, I just say that they’re another good player I can learn from.”
The Lady Falcons are working as a team beyond Jung’s effort to repeat as individual champion. They want to qualify for the sectional and state tournaments as a team. It all starts with Jung, whom Glendale girls golf coach Ron Yocum considers a joy to watch.
“What wouldn’t you want? A great teammate, an accomplished player and a wonderful person,” Yocum said.
Jung, already verbally committed to Southern Illinois, could turn her focus inward, but Yocum says she constantly makes the effort to help her teammates in practice rounds.
“(Jung) is free to comment to any of them, and they respect her,” Yocum said “I’ve got girls coming up to me, my younger ones, who say, ‘Can I play with Sun today?’ Why? Because they want to learn.”
The Lady Falcons last won a conference golf championship in 2002, and are far removed from a run of three consecutive state championships from 1977 to 1979. Having an individual state champion attempting a repeat helps drive up enthusiasm for the program.
Should Jung repeat in Class 2, she would become Glendale’s second two-time state champion after Annie Cain, who won titles in 1984 and 1985 and is a member of the Springfield Area Sports Hall of Fame.
She and Yocum hope teammates can join her at state.
“I’m trying to teach them how to make good decisions on the golf course. A lot of it is not about your swing, it’s being mentally cognizant of your shot selections on the course to keep your numbers from inflating,” Yocum said.
Sun Young Jung at a glance
State championship tournament finishes: Second place in 2011, fifth place in 2012 state champion in 2013.
2014 highlights: First place in the Seymour Invitational with a Marshfield Country Club ladies course record 64, first place at the Ozark Invitational with score of 72.
College status: Verbal commitment to Southern Illinois University