JMAC learning a thing or two from Sung Kang

Jon McCarthy (R) takes a photo with Sung Kang before teeing off at the True South Classic Pro-Am in...

Jon McCarthy (R) takes a photo with Sung Kang before teeing off at the True South Classic Pro-Am in Mississippi. JMAC will forever be grateful for a sweet bunker tip he received from Kang.

JON MCCARTHY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:24 AM ET

In the end, we didn’t pick Sung Kang, he picked us.

The True South Classic Pro-Am party in Mississippi was about to begin and our foursome of Canadian golf writers were well prepared.

The format is simple. Much like fantasy sports, each team gets a randomly generated draft position and when it’s your turn, you pick your pro.

We had our list of players ready and things were looking good. After all, it was a pretty safe bet that we were the only Canadians in attendance so if we didn’t get one of our top choices such as Rocco Mediate or Stuart Appleby, we could at least count on Kingston’s Matt McQuillan being available.

Sorry, Matt.

The action started and quickly the “big names” were taken from the board.

If you think the RBC Canadian Open has a difficult date on the PGA Tour schedule, the True South Classic runs a week earlier, opposite the British Open.

It wasn’t long before every name on our list above McQuillan — who we had ranked ninth — was gone.

It became a waiting game. Us waiting for our number to be called so we could complete Team Canada with McQuillan, our Canadian pro.

A funny thing happened. Our number didn’t get called. Team after team picked.

And ... still ... we ... didn’t ... get ... called.

The rest of the guys were getting antsy but I reassured them, “We have nothing to worry about, McQuillan will still be there.”

After 45 of the 47 teams in the pro-am had made their selection, it was officially time to worry.

There were two teams left to pick. And yes, McQuillan was still on the board.

The second last team was drawn and it wasn’t us. We were going to have the very last pick.

Maybe the other team won’t pick McQuillan, we hoped.

Who’s the other player left?

Sung Kang.

Uh-oh.

The team on the clock chose McQuillan and without us ever making a pick, we had our pro.

Team Canada would tee it up with South Korea’s Sung Kang.

The four of us quickly went into research mode.

“Do you guys know anything about Sung Kang?” I asked the others.

“The Internet doesn’t even know anything about Sung Kang,” answered one of my teammates, nose buried in his iPhone.

That ended up being a bit of an exaggeration. By the time we arrived at the course the next day for the pro-am, we had learned that Kang was 25 years old and had lived in Irving, Tex., for a year.

We were also pretty sure they speak some version of English in Irving, Texas.

There was no NCAA golf on Kang’s resume but there was a T7 at last year’s True South Classic and a T3 at the season-ending Children’s Miracle Classic.

We arrived at the 10th tee (our starting hole) and were greeted by Kang and his caddie.

Kang is not tall but in great shape with a dark tan. I noted that if you took away the dark tan and great shape part, my build is somewhat similar to Kang’s. I thought perhaps I could learn something from his swing.

Kang turned out to be a great guy. He was quick to smile and quick to say “good shot” when we managed to hit something decent. Always making eye contact when he spoke to us, I thought that there are plenty of 25-and-under athletes who could learn a thing or two from Kang.

It turned out to be a great day at the Jack Nicklaus-designed Annandale Golf Club where the real True South Classic action would begin a day later.

As for the pro-am, Team Canada forgot to bring one thing — a golf game.

Earlier in the week, during a warm-up round at Dancing Rabbit Golf Club — another Mississippi gem — our group had seven natural birdies between the four of us.

How many did we have at the pro-am? None.

That’s right. Zip. Zero. Nada.

Perhaps our poor play rubbed off on Kang because he struggled as well, making just one birdie.

Needless to say, Team Canada didn’t win any trophies.

That’s not to say we didn’t learn anything.

Late in the round I arrived at a greenside bunker to find my ball buried in the lip. When I say buried, I mean there were roughly six or seven visible dimples of the golf ball.

As I stared at my bad luck, Kang walked over and said, “You’ve got that. Easy.”

So I climbed into the bunker and began to assume my normal bunker stance.

Kang quickly piped in: “No, don’t open the face. Close it. More, more, more … there,” he said. “Now, hit it as hard as you can and don’t worry about a follow through.”

With the face of my sand wedge a touch closed, I took a full swing and dug the club into the sand behind the ball. It popped out beautifully, travelled 10 yards or so and settled 10-12 feet from the hole.

It was Sung Kang of shot! (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)

That was one of the only golf highlights of our round but the trip was clear winner. There’s nothing like Southern hospitality to cheer you up after a bad round.

One great touch at the True South Classic were the signs volunteers held up at each hole. Instead of the normal “Quiet, please!” these signs read, “Hush, y’all!”

Any time you get a group of golf writers together there will be some stories you just can’t tell. Like the one where a member of our group convinced a waitress half his age that he’s the best golfer in Canada. Or the American golf writer who informed me he is officially banned from the Hooters International Bikini Contest.

Wait, did I just write that?

Since we’re telling secrets, it’s worth pointing out that if you ever get the chance to play in a pro-am with Bill Lunde, just say no.

 


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