Stanford's Wong Dedicated to Win

by Ryan Reiswig

Stanford sophomore Kristina Wong loves golf. Golf is her life.

If you don't believe this, just ask her; she can give you 1,240 reasons why she loves it. And while all those reasons may be very much the same, it doesn't question the dedication and sacrifice she's made to not only play the sport she loves, but to do it at a very high level.

Growing up in Binghamton, N.Y., Wong learned the tricks of her trade as an eight-year-old girl who followed her father to the golf course after school to drive the golf cart around. In an act of kindness he'll never regret, Wong's father did something one day that would change their lives forever. He let Kristina hit a golf ball.

"[My dad] would take me out and I'd just drive around," says Wong, a second team All-Pac-10 selection as a freshman. "Eventually he let me hit a couple shots. I really liked it and got hooked. I just kept playing with him, liked spending time with him and stuck with it. Here I am now."

Wong's father saw something in his daughter's golf game at the time that he thought was special, something many weekend golfers around the country would love to have: the ability to putt. Ken reiterated this to Kristina time and time again, giving Kristina the confidence to continue on and better her game.

"I was eight so, it didn't really seem like anything to me," says Wong. "I just hit the little ball and it went in the hole. My dad reinforcing the fact he thought I had talent, it got me more motivated to keep going. After I decided to be relatively serious about the game, I was practicing after school. If it wasn't for my dad reinforcing the fact he thought I had talent, I wouldn't have stuck with it."

This is where the 1,240 reasons kick in. Living in Binghamton, while beautiful, isn't a conducive location to playing golf year-round. In order for Wong to grow as a golfer at the rate she wanted, her parents made a life-changing decision for the whole Wong family.

Kristina and her mom moved 1,240 miles south to Bradenton, Fla.

"My parents thought it was a good idea to go down there because the winters in New York are pretty brutal," says Wong. "I wouldn't be able to take my game to the next level if I stayed up there. I have a brother but he stayed up in New York with my dad because [my dad] needed to work. It was a huge sacrifice for my family."

The sacrifice might have been tougher for the men left up north, however, as they were left with chores they weren't accustomed to.

"Two guys living in a house alone in New York was pretty brutal, because my dad had to learn how to cook and clean the house and my brother had to help with all that," says Wong, laughing. "It was definitely difficult, but we made it work."

The use of modern technology made the distance between the family a lot easier to deal with as they used webcams to video chat every night. Plus, everyone in the Wong clan had the same mindset about the situation.

"The bottom line is we believed it would help my golf game," says Wong, who finished second on the team with a 74.4 stroke average last year as a freshman.

The Wong's sacrifice paid major dividends as Kristina left high school in Florida as a three-time Rolex Junior All-American and entered Stanford as the second-ranked player in the Golfweek/Sagarin junior rankings.

While Kristina is living far from home once again, this time on the West Coast and without her mother, she hasn't forgotten the sacrifice her parents made during her high school years.

"They're the ones that got me started," says Wong. "They pushed me to do well and sacrificed so much for me. They've supported me through everything. My ups, my downs, struggles, they were always there for me no matter what."

Only in her sophomore year, Wong has plenty of collegiate golf ahead of her and plans on staying in school until she graduates. Once she gets that long awaited diploma, however, she hopes to turn her dreams into reality.

"I will probably go down to Florida and stay there with my coach and trainer," says Wong. "I'll try out for Q-School and hopefully play professionally."

That will be over two years from now though. In the immediate future, Wong has a few goals that her opponents should be fearful of.

"I want to mature as a player," says Wong. "I want to win the national championship and every other tournament there is out there."

Judging from her past, Wong is dedicated to do anything it takes to do just that.

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