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On the Beat: A different Chang in a big golf event

Posted: August 8, 2014 9:38 p.m.
Updated: August 8, 2014 9:38 p.m.

 

The pressure to raise his game at the collegiate level wore on Valencia High graduate and 2012 All-Santa Clarita Valley Golfer of the Year Jonathan Chang.

He turned in what he called a “so-so” freshman year at Rutgers in 2012-13, but was a little more positive about his sophomore year.

Just recently Chang turned a corner in his golf game and its paying dividends.

He is one of two former All-SCV boys golfers of the year competing next week for the U.S. Amateur Championship in Johns Creek, Ga.

West Ranch High graduate J.J. Holen (2009-11) and Chang are both in the field of more than 300 golfers.

Chang and Holen both made the field after qualifying at Valencia Country Club on July 7.

Chang says this is the biggest event of his career (Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson are past winners).

He might not be in this position had he not made a few changes.

“The biggest thing is definitely the mindset of knowing this is just a game. It’s not life or death,” Chang said. “I am enjoying playing. It’s now fun to compete rather than it feeling like a job or stressful. I go out here and enjoy myself.”

Chang had all the shots in his bag as a high school golfer and what also set him apart was a competitive spirit and confidence well beyond that of most golfers his age.

But his intensity and drive was too much for even him to handle when he reached Rutgers and was competing with golfers at or above his level.

Too much pressure led to unsatisfactory results.

A significant moment came this past winter when his family moved to Corona, forcing him to search for a new swing coach closer to his home on breaks from school.

Chang found Mel Blasberg, who he credits for changing his train of thought.

Blasberg’s daughter and former amateur star and LPGA golfer Erica Paige Blasberg committed suicide in 2010.

“Getting insight from Mel, seeing how he helped his daughter’s game opened up so many pathways on the golf course for me with strategy where I wouldn’t have thought about,” Chang said. “I used to leave the course so frustrated. This game can really wear you down. It wore me down my freshman year. I re-loved the game when I saw Mel.”

Chang will be a junior at Rutgers in the fall and is studying psychology.

He’s not putting pressure on himself next week at the U.S. Am.

“Not too many people can say I made it to the U.S. Amateur,” he said.

From the course to the court

The Master’s College men’s basketball team has added another former Santa Clarita Christian player.

Tikko Moore is transferring from NAIA Simpson University in Redding.

Moore, a 2012 SCCS graduate, will join 2014 SCCS grad Philip Webb on the Mustangs this season.

Moore was an All-Heritage League first-teamer as a junior and senior.

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