Alex Ching’s body of work in college golf is now stretching across oceans.
The 2008 Punahou graduate is third in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, started by Royal and Ancient Championships Limited in 2007. The top-ranked player is reigning U.S. Amateur champ Peter Uihlein, with NCAA champ Scott Langley seventh.
Ching beat both of them, and five others ranked among the NCAA’s top 10, at last month’s Western Refining College All-America Classic. The University of San Diego junior became the first golfer to go from worst to first in the 32-player invitational.
The ranking is a testament to Ching’s success since leaving Hawaii, and his tenacity. It includes all collegiate and amateur events a golfer plays the past year. His results included a second-place finish at the NCAA championships and advancing to the third round at the U.S. Amateur. The win at the All-America Classic was worth 72 points and drop-kicked him past a bunch of All-Americans into third.
Ching had no idea of the ranking until his roommate, who doesn’t even golf, filled him in. He is also not sure what it accomplishes, aside from "getting my name out there," but it can’t hurt a guy whose next goal is to play on the U.S. Walker Cup team. He was invited to a tryout/practice next month.
After that, the focus will be on the spring season. The Toreros took eighth at the NCAA championships, behind Ching’s runner-up finish. The 2010 honorable mention All-American has held a lead in the last two NCAAs. He was 13th his first season, and West Coast Conference freshman of the year.
"I’ve learned a lot over the last two years," Ching said. "I think I’m beginning to become more comfortable with myself when I am in a position to win. Also, now that I have put myself in that position twice, I have proven to myself that I can actually play with the guys out there. I know what I can accomplish and that I always have a chance out there."
That was certainly true here. Ching won the only state high school championship he played (2008), after capturing two state doubles titles in tennis the previous years. In 2008, he won the 100th Manoa Cup and played the Sony Open in Hawaii.
That was around the time USD coach Tim Mickelson was getting hooked. Mickelson, whose brother Phil gives him immediate name recognition, saw a junior with the "fundamental tools to be a successful collegiate golfer."
"I did not envision him being a standout star," Mickelson acknowledges, "but I’m certainly glad he has."
Ching’s friendly personality fit in immediately at USD and he surged to the top of a team that has since found its niche in the top 25. Mickelson says he has improved almost every moment, and does not see an end to the trend.
"The best part of his golf game is that he doesn’t have a weakness" the coach says. "He simply does everything slightly better than average. That’s a huge plus. He is also very confident in his abilities and knows how to play his golf game and never tries to play a different style than that."
When this season and next are over, Ching "definitely" wants to turn pro — in golf, not his high school sport of choice. He hasn’t played tennis since last year’s Men’s Night Doubles, except for a few hits with a teammate and Mickelson: "Just to get my head off of finals," Ching says, "and relax those golf muscles."
This week, Ching was named WCC player of the month a second straight time.