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At just nine years old, Jonathan Hong is already beating Tiger Woods at golf milestones

Ben Pike, February 3, 2019 5:00PM The Sunday Telegraph

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Jonathan Hong, 9, has just reached a scratch handicap after some dream rounds. Experts believe he is the youngest in Australia to reach this milestone. Picture: Brett Costello media_cameraJonathan Hong, 9, has just reached a scratch handicap after some dream rounds. Experts believe he is the youngest in Australia to reach this milestone. Picture: Brett Costello

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GOLF: He’s the nine-year-old Aussie young gun who has hit a golfing milestone* four years earlier than American superstar Tiger Woods — and nine years earlier than Aussie golfing legend* Greg Norman.

Jonathan Hong is now a “scratch”* golfer after a run of incredible rounds that has seen his coach describe him as the “best nine-year-old in the country and one of the best in the world”.

And the well-spoken Jonathan is training 50 hours a week as he chases the dream of beating Tiger Woods on the golf course.

He scored two rounds of four-under at the par-61* course in Five Dock. Combined with a four-over round at Liverpool Golf Club and an even-par score at Ryde-Parramatta Golf Club, he is now playing off 0.1 — a scratch handicap.

The lower a golfer’s handicap, the better golfer they are. Scratch is when a player requires no handicap assistance to shoot a par round.

Major winners Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Australian Jason Day all got to scratch at age 13.

Norman was 18 when he reached scratch — although he only took up at game at age 16.

Asked how Jonathan compares to Tiger, coach Chris Willard said “he’s better”.

“I would say that Jonathan Hong is better than what Tiger Woods was at age nine,” Willard, an Australian PGA professional, said.

“I’m quietly confident that he is the youngest kid ever to reach scratch.

“I’m pretty sure he is the best nine-year-old in the country at the moment. He is also one of the best in the world.”

Jonathan Hong hits out of a bunker. Picture: Brett Costello media_cameraJonathan Hong hits out of a bunker. Picture: Brett Costello
Tiger Woods hitting a golf ball at two years old. Picture: Sports Illustrated Magazine media_cameraTiger Woods hitting a golf ball at two years old. Picture: Sports Illustrated Magazine

Changes to the handicapping* system in 2014 mean a players’ handicap is set by the best eight rounds of their past 20.

Before 2014 every round counted toward your handicap, including blowout* scores. This made it harder to get to scratch.

Jonathan Hong practises for more than 50 hours a week. Picture: Brett Costello media_cameraJonathan Hong practises for more than 50 hours a week. Picture: Brett Costello

Jonathan, from Newington in Western Sydney, plays alongside his eight-year-old brother Nathan, who plays off a handicap of eight.

The boys’ father Daniel Hong runs his own paint contracting business, giving him the time to get his sons, who are home schooled, out on the course every day.

“Monday to Friday we practice for eight hours a day and then do three hours study,” Jonathan said.

“On Saturday and Sunday we play for five hours then study five hours.

“I want be a professional golfer and be the world number one. I want to beat Tiger Woods. I want to make my handicap better.”

GLOSSARY

  • milestone: marks the start of a big change or new chapter
  • legend: famous person
  • scratch: when a player requires no handicap assistance to shoot a par round
  • par 61: expected to take 61 hits to get around the course
  • handicapping: number given to a golfer to measure potential ability
  • blowout: massively over par

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QUICK QUIZ

  1. How old is Jonathan Hong?
  2. How many hours does he train each week?
  3. How old was Tiger Woods when he reached scratch?
  4. How is a player’s handicap set?
  5. Where does Jonathan live?

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VCOP ACTIVITY
After reading the article, with a partner, highlight as many connectives as you can find in pink. Discuss if these are being used as conjunctions, or to join ideas and create flow.

HAVE YOUR SAY: What do you think about Jonathan’s dedication to golf? Would you be willing to practice 50 hours for the sport you love?
No one-word answers. Use full sentences to explain your thinking.

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