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Wong earns state silver

Last year, Evelyn Wong discovered how to deal with pressure on a big stage. It really came down to mind over matter.

At the 2020 PIAA golf state championship tournament, Wong’s brother, Colin, told her she was tied for third place after 16 holes. Wong went on to double-bogey the 17th and had a par on 18 to finish fourth overall.

“It was just so embarrassing,” recalled the Emmaus senior. “It was my first year there, and I didn’t have a lot of expectations. The people I played with knew their limitations because they were there before. I learned how to take a different approach to playing in a pressure situation.

“Instead of worrying about everything, I just tried to concentrate on making my next shot.”

Her philosophy worked, and she took everything in stride during a championship senior season.

Wong took the East Penn Conference girls crown and defended her district title this fall. She ended her season and high school career with a second place, 1-under par finish recently at the state championship tournament.

“I felt good about myself and it was a great tournament,” gushed Wong. “I played with a great group of girls. I was relaxed and I know I did what I could.

“The game can affect you mentally if you allow it. I wanted to do better, but I knew I did my best out there.”

Emmaus head coach Mo Bryan already had noticed Wong’s intense approach to her game.

“Evelyn has been wonderful to coach and a great teammate,” said Bryan. “She is probably one of the most focused players I have ever had, especially when it comes to practicing.

“It was incredible to watch her shoot a 64 this season at Allentown Municipal. She is very dedicated to the team, and she always encourages other players. She is going to be very hard to replace next season.”

Wong was joined at states by two teammates in seniors Matt Zerfass and Aiden LeBlanc. Zerfass made his third trip to states after he won this year’s EPC boys title and was second at districts. Zerfass, who will play at St. Joseph’s next fall, shot a three-over 75 and finished 12th.

LeBlanc, who will play at Lehigh University next year, made it to states for the first time, and he shot an eight-over 80.

Wong also plans to continue her career at Lehigh next season. Her process to land on South Mountain was an interesting one.

“I really got started late with everything,” noted Wong. “I started emailing coaches in the summer before my junior and senior year. I did talk to a lot of them and they didn’t initially respond.

“Lehigh came through with an offer and they really wanted me.”

Her dream schools, however, were a few thousand miles away.

“My dream always was to go to a California school,” she stressed. “It would have been schools like California-Irvine, Santa Clara, Cal-Poly or the University of San Francisco.”

However, she has experienced her share of some long-distance travel.

Wong grew up in Macungie until her father’s business took the family to Shanghai, where she began to develop her game despite some obstacles over a few years.

“I started playing when I was four when my dad brought my brother and I a set of plastic clubs from Costco,” said Wong. “When I was 10, I played 18 holes for the first time, and I started playing in tournaments when I was around 12.

“Playing golf in China is very expensive, and there are more females golfing than males. It is also very popular in Korea, but I had trouble playing enough because of the costs. I was coming back every summer, but then COVID slowed the process.”

Wong plans to pursue a career in bioengineering, a major she just recently chose. When she isn’t golfing, Wong still dabbles with playing the violin and piano. She still is a lover of classical music.

“I figured in 10th grade that I had to do something,” she said. “I really didn’t want to do a lot of work , and I had to find something I was interested in. I always had a strong interest in biology and figured it would be a good fit for me.”

While a pro career would seem a logical choice on the horizon for her, Wong has other ideas.

“A lot of young golfers are working on a way to go pro,” she said. “I just want to play. I wanted to be able to come home after work and shoot a round in the 70s. I enjoy it, but I don’t know if I want to go that far. It can be challenging, but it still should be fun.”

So far, it has been a fun ride for Wong, and a career that many young people wished they had.

PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZ Evelyn Wong wrapped up her high school golf career with a second-place finish at the state championship tournament last month.