Timothy Jung is a freshman for the Edison High boys’ golf team, even if he doesn’t look the part at 5 feet 11 and just more than 200 pounds.
He also can drive the ball, with an average drive of about 300 yards.
“I’ve had a few in my years that can do that,” said Chargers coach Brendan Patch, in his 24th season. “The thing about him is that he’s got that but he’s got all of the other stuff too. He’s not just a big hitter getting lucky. He’s got a good short game; he putts well. Real good touch.”
In a way, Jung has made things difficult for Patch this season. The Chargers brought back all of their starters from last year’s team that went 20-1, including the senior DiBernardo triplets, Pete, Vito and Tony.
Tony and Pete DiBernardo finished first and second, respectively, in the Sunset League last season. Tiger Tahvildari, a junior, is another key returner.
Patch wasn’t even sure if Jung would make varsity. He’s done much more than that.
Jung has been medalist four times for Edison (8-2), which won its Surf League opener Thursday with a 181-188 victory over Corona del Mar at Seacliff Country Club.
“To be honest, I wasn’t really sure I was going to make it into the top six,” he said. “Also, coming in as a freshman, I didn’t really think I would have a lot of opportunities to play on varsity.”
Jung not only has played, he’s been arguably the Chargers’ best golfer. He was medalist three times in three matches last week. He shot an even-par 36 against Mater Dei, five-under-par 31 against Los Alamitos and a two-under-par 33 against Laguna Beach. The scores are impressive, especially they came at three different golf courses: Seacliff, El Dorado Country Club and Aliso Viejo Country Club.
The round of 31 matched the Edison school record at five-under-par. The guy who Jung matched isn’t bad, it’s Austen Dailey, who graduated in 2008 and was the California state high school individual champion as a junior.
“He’s basically cracked open a spot for himself on a team that was probably a top three or four team in the county last year,” Patch said. “He’s made my job hard, because there are guys that were playing varsity last year that now have to sit, because he’s taken their spot. But it makes it real easy to justify to any of the kids or parents why Tim’s playing when he shoots a 31, a 33.”
Edison is playing well again, and Jung is a big part of it. He’s been playing golf since age 7, and in tournaments since two years later. The inspiration to start was given to him by his older sister, Jenny, who played at Irvine High.
The Jungs lived in Irvine until last fall. Now Timothy commutes from Corona, leaving at around 5:30 a.m. each morning. He said the family’s old house is currently being remodeled.
Patch can be glad that Jung is making the effort and commuting.
“I’ve shot a couple of low numbers,” the soft-spoken Jung said. “I feel like I could have played a lot better my first couple of matches, but other than that, as time has gone by I feel like I’m improving. I’ve learned a lot playing with my teammates and having more opportunities and ways to learn different things.
“[The 31] was kind of a surprise. I wasn’t feeling anything special. It just felt like a normal match, but yeah, I was giving myself a lot of opportunities to try to go for a lower number.”
Someone with Jung’s tools shouldn’t be surprised to have success. His teammates have certainly taken notice.
“He’s just playing the courses how they should be played, playing smart golf,” Vito DiBernardo said. “It’s pretty much wedges only, every hole. He reaches all of the par-fives in two [shots]. Especially for a freshman, that’s deep.”
The Surf League, which also includes Newport Harbor and Huntington Beach, is challenging. Jung has earned his spot on the roster as the Chargers go for the league title.
“The guy whose spot Tim’s taken this year [senior Anthony Dao] just got offered a Division 1 offer at Virginia,” Patch said. “It’s an interesting turn of events.”
Born: March 5, 2004
Height: 5 feet 11
Weight: 205 pounds
Coach: Brendan Patch
Favorite food: Korean food
Favorite movie: “Ant-Man”
Favorite athletic moment: Getting a hole in one during a practice round at Bear Creek Golf Club.