Norman Xiong has been playing golf at a high level for most of his life, but he has never had a year quite like this one.
His latest victory at the Nike Collegiate Invitational at the Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club in Portland, Oregon, was just the latest in a batch of big victories this summer.
“To have two wins already, it’s a really good feeling,” Xiong said.
He has won two out of the team’s three tournaments thus far, shooting 12 under par and 13 under par at the Rod Meyers Invite and Nike Collegiate Invite, respectively.
Xiong, 18, is ranked No. 6 in the world for amateurs, according to WorldAmateurGolfRanking.com. Though he does look at his rankings occasionally, he said he doesn’t let it get to his head nor affect his play.
Xiong won the Western Amateur Championship on Aug. 5, beating Doc Redman of Clemson in a 22-hole victory. Xiong loves that course, which is good considering they played the longest final match in tournament history, according to Matt Harness.
“I haven’t played that much golf, ever,” Xiong said. “We both had a great time.”
Though Xiong arrived a year after Aaron Wise, one of Oregon’s best golfers, he learned a lot from former teammate Wyndham Clark. Clark, now a professional, is the opposite of Xiong, at least personality-wise, according to head coach Casey Martin.
“Wyndham is the hardest worker on the planet,” Martin explained.
Because of Xiong’s laid back personality, he doesn’t feel the need to practice 20 hours a day. Clark, on the other hand, is very mechanical and his work ethic was on display every day.
“I think Norman watching Wyndham, watching how hard he works and how disciplined he is, Norman definitely picked up on a few of those things and it made him a better player” Martin said.
Even as a sophomore, Xiong is considered a team leader. After graduating from Temescal Canyon High School early, Xiong enrolled at Oregon last January. He’s not known for grinding in every tournament he can get into, but he picks and chooses the big ones, and more often than not, he’s in the mix to win it.
“I had been telling my team about him forever. … The moment he showed up, he had everyone’s respect,” Martin said.
That respect has continued to the international stage, where Xiong and Cal golfer Collin Morikawa dominated the first round of match play at the Walker Cup this summer in Los Angeles. They went 8-and-7, and essentially clinched halfway though the first round.
It’s a prestigious tournament, pitting the top amateur golfers from Great Britain and Ireland against the United States. Xiong and Morikawa posted one of the Walker Cup’s larger 18-hole victory in history.
“I definitely didn’t expect that,” said Xiong. “Our hearts were pumping.”
The duo helped the U.S. win the Walker Cup 19-to-7. Xiong was also selected to be on the 2017 U.S. Arnold Palmer Cup, a competition between the best collegiate golfers in the U.S. and Europe.
At this point in the season, Xiong is feeling good about his game. He believes there is room for improvement for the team, as it is still early in the season. The next challenge for the team the East Lake Cup, a three day tournament in Atlanta where Xiong will surely be looking to go back-to-back.
Follow August Howell on Twitter @howell_august