Xiong is Junior PGA Champion

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DROPOUT Norman Xiong w trophy

Photos by Traci Edwards/PGA of America

After winning the Junior PGA Championship on August 12 at the Wannamoisett Country Club in Rumford, Rhode Island, Canyon Lake resident Norman Xiong earned a spot on the U.S. Junior Ryder Cup team, which will play their junior counterparts from Europe in September.

According to pga.com, Norman won his Junior PGA Championship debut by two strokes over Patrick Welch, of Providence, Rhode Island.

“His 2-under, four-day total of 274 was remarkable considering he was under the weather for most of the week,” says PGA spokesperson John Dever. “Add to that a dose of oppressive humidity, wet/soggy conditions on Wednesday, week-long breezy conditions on Donald Ross’ revered par-69 Wannamoisett, and Xiong’s hoisting of the Jack Nicklaus Trophy is all the more impressive.”

According to pga.com, “Norman started Friday strong, carding three birdies on the front side. A bogey on No. 7 was his first blemish in 17 holes dating to Thursday’s third round. Along the way, he thwarted various charges by the hometown favorite, Welch (even-par, 276) and Shore (third place, one-over par, 277).”

“Nursing a one-shot advantage, Xiong’s successful 15-footer for birdie on the par-5 17th provided needed breathing room, and his par on 18, the cherished victory,” says Dever.

In spite of the sometimes difficult conditions, Norman said of the experience that, from his first practice round, he knew the course fit his game.

“My biggest goal, which I set in the beginning of the year, was to earn a spot in the Junior Ryder Cup. I’m glad I achieved it, especially this way,” says Norman.

Norman will be joined on the Ryder Cup team by fellow Californian, Lucy Li, of Redwood Shores, female winner of the Junior PGA Championship. The 12 junior golfers representing seven states will face their European counterparts in the 10th Junior Ryder Cup, September 26 and 27, at Interlachen Country Club in Edina, Minnesota.

Participants in the 2016 Junior Ryder Cup also will play a nine-hole “Friendship Match” on September 28 at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minnesota, and be announced live to a global audience during the 41st Ryder Cup Opening Ceremonies on September 29.

Norman will be a senior this year at Temescal Canyon High School; however, the Titan Golf Team will not have the advantage of his participation, since he intends to graduate early, skip his senior high school season in the spring and enroll early at the University of Oregon.

Among other accomplishments this year, Norman was one of 54 participants to compete in the 2016 Junior Invitational at Sage Valley Golf Club in South Carolina in April. That event featured the largest international field in its history, with competitors from 13 countries.

Norman, who started playing golf at the age of 4 at the U.S. Naval Base in Guam, moved to the United States in 2005, at age 6, to further expand his opportunities in the game of golf. Initially moving to the San Diego area, he and his family relocated to Canyon Lake in 2009, when Norman was just 10 years old, to further expand his golfing opportunities. In Canyon Lake, he trained with Richard Messer.

A year ago, the long-driving Titan won the prestigious Homer Thomas Classic in April, the Sunbelt League’s individual title in early May, the CIF-SCGA Southern California Regional Championship in late May, and tied for 4th place in the CIF-State Championship in June.

Of this rising star, Canyon Lake Golf Pro Pat Kemball says, “Norman played here in Canyon Lake when he was younger but he outgrew our course and moved to Bear Creek. He’s such a nice young man and very well mannered.”

To Pat’s knowledge, a victory celebration isn’t planned in Canyon Lake; however, there is no doubt the golfing community at large is proud to have an association with Norman and other junior golf standouts like Hunter Newlin and Baylee Barkley.

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Sharon Rice