When Moon Cheong arrived as a freshman to the esteemed Ardrey Kell girls golf team, she wasn’t sure what to expect or how her season was going to play out.
Cheong began golfing when she was 7 years old, and was playing in tournaments a couple of years later. She had already carded a career-low 73 in a youth tournament, so she had the big-match pedigree and wherewithal to have a successful season.
But even she didn’t see this year coming.
“I wasn’t sure how it was going to be. It was unexpected, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into,” Cheong said. “We did great. We support and love each other and just went out and played some good golf. Winning is a great bonus, but playing together and having a great connection during the year is more important,” she added.
With their star freshman leading a team devoid of seniors, Cheong was more than up to the challenge. She helped lead the undefeated Knights to the So. Meck 8 conference title, a Western Regional title and the ultimate goal of a Class 4A state title.
Cheong was great along the way. She fired a low of 33 for nine holes at Providence Country Club, but saved her best performances for when her team needed her most – shooting 77 to finish second in the region and a two-day 151 (75 and 76) to finish second in the state. For her year-long dominance, Cheong is the 2013 Carolina Weekly Newspaper Group’s Southern Mecklenburg Girls Golfer of the Year.
“I never expected myself to do that well,” Cheong said. “I just wanted go out and play well for my team and try to get to states. Even if I didn’t do that well or if we didn’t make it to states, it was still a great experience and I loved it.
“I never thought it would happen to me, but it has. The hard work has paid off.”
And Cheong isn’t done. She plans to accomplish much more in the next three years.
“You can always improve,” Cheong said. “Right now I’m working with my swing coach, Julie Cole from Dana Radar (Golf School in Ballantyne), getting (my) swing straightened out and trying to improve my whole game.
“My mindset has changed a lot during the course of these past years growing as a person and a player. The way I think of myself on the golf course and how to control my emotions has changed a lot. I think that’s helped me, but so have my teammates, my swing coach and coach Bart (Whitney). It’s been a really fun year.”